As COVID-19 hits New York City with the brunt of its force, mainstream media has begun its onslaught of reports that the virus will overwhelm the city’s hospitals.
The problem with this reporting is that neither mainstream media nor hospital administrators have a good track record when presenting reality.
From there, the problem gets worse because there is absolutely zero data being released that would provide information to personally analyze the situation.
We know that the number of hospital beds in New York City, depending upon the source, is somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000. But that is all the data that is generally available.
There is no data that I was able to find, for example, that lists how many patients are currently in the hospital because of the flu or the number that are admitted for flu over the flu season.
Indeed, there is no breakdown as to what type of patients take up hospital beds.
Although we get a daily announcement as to how many new “confirmed” cases of those infected with COVID-19, there is no breakdown of how many of those are hospitalized and the severity of their cases.
In other words, it is impossible to put the current situation into perspective in terms of what is different from, say flu routine or anything else that might cause people to end up in a hospital.
Finally, hospitals appear to run pretty much on a full occupancy basis. It would be interesting to understand what government regulations and funding incentives create this situation. Keep in mind that government regulations appear to be at the epicenter of the mask shortage.
A full hospital occupancy policy, which appears to be more of the situation than even for hotels, is odd when you would think that hospitals would in a free market have the ability to expand capacity rapidly for emergencies.
I, for one, can think of a number of options that would immediately improve the capacity situation that aren’t being used by NYC hospitals at present.
Bottom line: It is impossible to understand what kind of an extreme outlier COVID-19 is for the New York City hospital industry, if at all, given that reports are coming from two sources that must be questioned as to their veracity and, at the same time, the data necessary to independently analyze the situation is not available.
There is definitely the potential for a PhD paper in applied economic policy concerning the structure of New York City hospitals and their ability to react to the COVID-19 panic. I smell crony government bureaucratic central planning and a lot of it.