As Americans begin to cope with the prospect that the novel coronavirus could spread more widely in the U.S., there are questions about how prepared and sufficiently funded most hospitals are to handle severe cases in a major outbreak.
So far, several dozen people or so, across the country have been hospitalized with the virus, and at least six people in the U.S. have died. Government health officials now say they expect significantly more cases could arise, which means that hospitals need to be ready.
NPR checked in with two of the hospitals handling the first U.S. patients with COVID-19, to get their insights and advice.
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Four people who were infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship are now being treated at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.
These patients are stable for now, but “their level of symptomatology is pretty variable,” according to Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, executive vice president and chief clinical officer for Providence St. Joseph Health, a network of hospitals and clinics that includes Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
She says treating these patients in the hospital, as opposed to at home, is the result of an abundance of caution.