Top NYC surgeon says coronavirus has ‘breached’ hospital walls, warns beds will be full of patients in as little as 22 days and describes how medical staff are forced to clean and re-use one mask each

Sunday, March 22, 2020
By Paul Martin

Dr Craig Smith, Columbia University’s chief surgeon, said hospitals in New York-Presbyterian system are burning through 40,000 masks per day
Smith warned that surge of infected patients could peak in next 22 to 32 days
His projections show system’s hospitals needing 700 to 934 ICU beds for peak
According to Smith, the system saw 50 per cent increase in coronavirus patients, totaling 300 being treated and another 200 awaiting test results
Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

By VALERIE EDWARDS
DAILYMAIL.COM
22 March 2020

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases soared above 12,000 in the state of New York, Columbia University’s chief of surgery warned that emergency rooms will become overwhelmed with infected patients within the next 22 to 32 days.

Because of dwindling supplies, hospitals have been rationing supplies and asking staff to reuse masks until they become soiled.

Dr Craig Smith, Columbia University’s chief surgeon, said hospitals in the New York Presbyterian system are burning through about 40,000 masks a day – about 10 times the normal amount.

Smith has been raising alarms about the rapid surge of patients and dwindling supplies in daily letters to colleagues that have been posted to the Columbia surgery department’s Twitter account.

On Friday, Smith warned in a letter that new projections estimate the number of coronavirus patients will continue to grow over the next 22 to 32 days, overwhelming New York-Presbyterian system’s emergency rooms and intensive care units, even with measures taken to build capacity.

The projections show the system’s hospitals needing 700 to 934 ICU beds when the outbreak reaches its peak.

According to Smith, the system saw a 50 per cent increase in coronavirus patients, making for a total of 300 being treated and another 200 awaiting test results.

‘Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to apologize profusely in a few weeks for having overestimated the threat,’ Smith wrote.

‘That would mean we never exceeded capacity, and that mortalities and morbidities rarely seen in non-pandemic circumstances were avoided. The next month or two is a horror to imagine if we’re underestimating the threat,’ he added.

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