Ventilator shortage looms as coronavirus cases grow, health experts warn

A ventilator shortage could lead to an overwhelmed healthcare system if Americans fail to take precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, NBC News reported. 

Ventilators are used to mechanically provide oxygen to patients having breathing trouble. 

David Battinelli, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Northwell Health in New York City, told NBC that having enough ICU beds and staff isn’t nearly as big of a concern as a ventilator shortage. 

“Anybody can turn a room into an ICU-level room, and we can get the staff [needed], but there are only so many ventilators available," he said. 

President Donald Trump encouraged states not to wait on the federal government to order ventilators and gave governors the right to order from private suppliers, according to NBC

The American Hospital Association urged people to take the necessary precautions, including: 

  • Staying 3 to 6 feet away from others 
  • Staying home if you feel sick 
  • Proper hand-washing
  • Covering your mouth and nose if coughing or sneezing
  • Avoiding gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks 

The hospital association said it is crucial to make sure the number of critical patients who need to be in the hospital remains low so that the healthcare system isn't overwhelmed, NBC reported. 

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