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As vacant beds disappear during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are making difficult decisions

Dr. Anthony Leno, Director of Emergency Medicine St. Joseph's Hospital, left, and Dr. James Neuendorf, Director of Medicine, right, look into an exam room where a patient with COVID-19 who went into cardiac arrest was revived, Monday, April 20, 2020, in Yonkers, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

As the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads across the United States, millions of people with other health conditions are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Patients who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 and have at least one pre-existing condition are more likely to become hospitalized and admitted into an intensive care unit.

HOSPITAL BEDS IN THE U.S. PER 10,000 PEOPLE

Because of the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitals are increasingly becoming overwhelmed. The shortage of hospital beds and other essential resources could force hospitals to make difficult decisions when considering how to care for patients in need.

RISK OF SERIOUS ILLNESS IF INFECTED WITH SARS-CoV-2 AS AN ADULT

Age and pre-existing conditions play a major role in deciding whether people should be hospitalized for COVID-19. Older populations are more susceptible to complications from the disease, with people over 60 being at higher risk.

MOST COVID-19 PATIENTS WHO END UP IN U.S. HOSPITALS HAVE AT LEAST ONE OTHER PRE-EXISTING CONDITION

Non-ICU

ICU

Studies show that underlying health issues, such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, can make it more difficult to recover from COVID-19, as the disease damages already-hampered organs.

HOSPITALIZATION AND INTENSIVE CARE UNIT ADMISSION IN THE U.S. WITH AN UNDERLYING CONDITION

Underlying Condition

Non-underlying condition

Hospitalized without ICU admission

Hospitalized with ICU admission

As people age, pre-existing health conditions may grow worse. That’s why COVID-19 has been detrimental to older people who have underlying illnesses and face a higher risk of developing serious complications.

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