Selectively Caring for the Most Severe COVID-19 cases will delay a hospital bed shortage in Washington
COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout Washington State. Hospitals in Washington are predicted to soon run out of hospital beds for patients and many are trying to delay such a shortage. Social distancing is helping delay the bed shortage by lowering the spread of COVID19, but social distancing measures are imperfect and often violated. Two other potential solutions are to add more beds to hospitals and decrease the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, such as by allowing less serious cases to self-isolate at home. We employ an exponential growth model to estimate when Washington hospitals will run out of beds and estimate how lowering the hospitalization rate or adding hospital beds alter the projection. If the current rates of spread and hospitalization for COVID-19 remain constant, our model predicts COVID-19 patients will occupy every hospital bed in Washington by approximately May 5th. Lowering the hospitalization rate of COVID-19 patients by 50 % delays this shortage an extra six days. Conversely, adding 50 % more beds to Washington hospitals only delays the bed shortage an extra 3 days. These two solutions are not equally practical, but our model does suggest that decreasing the hospitalization rate provides greater returns than the equivalent increase in bed numbers. Washington hospitals are undoubtedly facing rough times ahead, but our model argues that selectively caring for the worst cases of COVID-19 will help maximize the number of lives saved.
About the Presenters
Miles Roberts has been conducting undergraduate research for the past two years under the mentorship of Dr. Stephanie Porter. His studies have mostly focused on the evolutionary ecology of soil bacteria, but he also has passions for mathematical modeling and genetics. Miles is close to earning a bachelor’s degree in biology with minors in chemistry and mathematics. After graduation, he will attend graduate school at Michigan State University where he will pursue a PhD in Genetics and Genome Sciences with a second major in Computational Plant Sciences. On the cat-to-dog person spectrum, Miles is definitely a cat person.
Lena Coker is a supplemental instructor and tutor for sciences and mathematics at WSUV, where she studies neuroscience and biology. As a disabled student, she works with the Accessibility Council increasing access by empowering disabled students. Her passions include community science, wildlife conservation, and biological basis of behavior in animals.
Alex Jensen is an undergraduate at WSUV where he majors in neuroscience with minors in mathematics and biology and certifying in mathematical biology. He has worked with symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast in a fermentation lab for the past 6 years. He plans on working in a research lab involving the addiction process of cocaine and pursuing a graduate degree in neurology at Oregon Health and Science University after graduating. He enjoys pursing scientific and experimental knowledge in neuroscience and fermentation as well as environmental conservation. On the cat-to-dog spectrum, Alex is definitely a cat person who enjoys dogs.