Healthcare CEO says wave of COVID-19 cases will crest in 30 to 45 days

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The charts and infection rates may help us to measure our progress in the fight against COVID-19, but one of the clearest views may come from the people who are running the health care systems.

The CEO of Sharp Healthcare, Chris Howard, said he is already seeing a more rapid rise in cases.

At Sharp’s four acute care hospitals, the number of COVID-19 patients went up by 71 percent over the last 30 days.

Howard said that’s looking like a trend that will crest over the next 30 to 45 days.

Right now, Sharp’s Intensive Care beds are 87 percent full. 36 percent of those patients are being treated for the coronavirus.

Howard said he has extra beds for more patients, but the more pressing concern is whether he will have the staff to support those additional patients. He’s worried about having enough protective equipment like masks and gowns for his staff.

Although it’s difficult to come up with a precise forecast, Howard said the next 45 days will critical as hospitals, surgery centers, clinics other health care providers are face increasing strain.

Howard said the onset of flu season in the fall will increase the pressures on the health system.

The Sharp CEO said we will have to walk a thin line between keeping the virus under control and reopening parts of the economy.

“I think the questions is how can we balance it? And how can we go as slow as possible to ensure that every opening that occurs that leads to further incidence of disease and contracted virus, are we prepared for that? A lot of it depends on capacity, because no matter what else happens, to the extent that we don’t maintain capacity within our public health system to care for these patients, no amount of reopening is worth it,” Howard said.

Some Sharp employees have become COVID-19 patients themselves and Howard said two of them have died from the coronavirus.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local San Diego News