COVID-19 Update: Thousands of Empty Hospital Beds as NC Enters Peak Week

RALEIGH – This week was estimated to be the ‘peak’ of the COVID-19 curve. The week in which models suggested North Carolina would be experiencing 50+ deaths from COVID-19 everyday. The week in which our healthcare system was to be in danger of running out of ICU and general hospital beds, even with social distancing mandates in place.

Two days away from what the IHME predicts is peak COVID-19 carnage in the Old North State and not only do we have thousands of open hospitals beds, it appears that less people across North Carolina are on ventilators now than two weeks ago?

This doesn’t necessarily jive with the weeks of warning that coronavirus was going to wreak havoc on hospitals, resulting in eye-popping death totals, and a possible collapse in our healthcare systems, all according model projections. The models produced fear such that it warranted shutting down our entire economy, because that is the only one-size-fits-all policy apparent to public health officials solely concerned with controlling variables to quell a virus.

Inevitably, the counterfactual is coming: hospital capacity and COVID-19 impact is way under the forecasts because the government shutdown edicts are working.

Of course, it is a counterfactual fallacy; it ignores the possibility of this COVID-19 case trend still occurring as an effect of causes other than the shutdown, even if shutdown had not occurred. The proponents of the counterfactual assume the decrees were the cause without evidence, being that consistent and informative data on the virus and its true spread has been a universal source of frustration.

Not knowing how prevalent the virus already is in a community means the efficacy of stay-at-home orders is impossible to demonstrate until the evidence is collected. If the spread was already on the high end, sending everyone indoors to fester with family may not have done any good at all. The thing is, we just don’t know.

What we do know is that North Carolina, entering the predicted crescendo of COVID-19, is operating with historically normal hospital bed, ICU bed, and ventilator capacity as only 331+ people have been hospitalized with the disease so far. About 90 people have died.

Relative to  what models were projecting, that’s good news. Hopefully we’re only a few days away from those numbers trending in a positive direction. Unfortunately, it will take much longer for the economic numbers (the livelihoods of North Carolinians) to escape the shutdown policies and begin the long climb out of this massive hole we’ve just dug for ourselves.

You can find more updated metrics on the virus and hospital resources here.

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