Medical rationing is not something Americans are accustomed to, but COVID-19 may soon change that.
The specter of rationing is most imminent in New York City, where the virus is spreading rapidly and overwhelming hospitals with patients.
According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state has 2,200 ventilators in its state stockpile. Current COVID-19 case projections suggest the state may not have enough of the machines, which help critically ill people breathe, as soon as next week.
The survival rate for COVID-19 patients on ventilators may be as low as 20%, though the machines’ effectiveness for those patients is still being studied.
“At the current burn rate, we have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile,” Cuomo said on Thursday. If there are not enough ventilators to provide one for every patient who might benefit, hospitals in New York would need to begin making excruciating decisions about who will receive what care.