CLOSE An epidemiologist answers the biggest questions she’s getting about coronavirus. WochitOverrun by critically ill coronavirus patients, Italy’s hospitals are choosing who gets  lifesaving breathing machines and who does not.It’s a scenario that could soon repeat in the United States, experts warn.“The capacity in northern Italy hospitals is a preview of a movie that is about to play in the United States,” said Marty Makary, a Johns Hopkins University surgeon and health policy expert. “The best two indicators of what things will be like in the U.S. are the number of COVID-related deaths in Italy and the number of ICU beds.”U.S. hospitals are on the cusp of too many severely ill patients without enough intensive care unit beds and ventilators to keep those patients breathing. It’s why states, municipalities and businesses are desperately trying to delay new infections through social distancing measures such as school closings and work-from-home mandates.The federal government has not publicly released estimates on demands COVID-19 might place on hospitals. In an earlier report on a moderate flu pandemic, the U.S.  projected 200,000 Americans would need the most extreme level of care: a bed in a hospital intensive care unit. If the pandemic worsens to levels of the 1918 Spanish


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