Coronavirus and the U.S. health care system challenges

A hospital bed sits behind a curtained window.
An examination room at the Rainy River Medical Center in International Falls sits empty behind a curtained window.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Public health officials and government agencies are concerned about hospitals and how they would handle a possible surge in seriously ill patients with COVID-19, especially in terms of equipment like beds and ventilators. When it comes to the numbers, it’s estimated that there are 160,000 ventilators available for patient care, with at least 8,900 in a national stockpile. But are they enough?

Meanwhile, efforts are underway to get more equipment. Some of the onus falls on states themselves, with President Trump advising a group of governors Monday afternoon to try getting items they need themselves in addition to federal support.

MPR News host Kerri Miller talked with a health policy researcher and a health care executive about the state of hospital preparedness and what health care providers need to care for patients.


  • Dr. David Hilden is vice president of medical affairs at Hennepin Healthcare.

  • Dr. Ashish Jha is a physician, professor of global health and director of the Harvard Global health Institute.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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