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Hospital Operations During a Flattened COVID-19 Curve: Results of Planning for the Nth Patient in Los Angeles County

  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • 2Critical Care Preparedness Task Force, Los Angeles County–USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
  • 3Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 4School of Management, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 5Critical Care, Los Angeles County–USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, California

In an earlier article,1 we outlined the impending challenges to hospital capacity and operations during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Although COVID-19 has remained front-page news, many hospital preparations have occurred behind closed doors. Community members may perceive this silence as a statement that COVID-19 has not affected their community or that their local hospital system remains unprepared for an impending surge. This disconnect can erode popular support for health care efforts, reduce public participation in social controls, and may even fuel conspiracy theories. To reconnect with the public, we illustrate how “flattening the curve”—a strategy that uses social controls to prevent a rapid influx of critically ill patients—has created time for Los Angeles County to improve hospital capabilities that are vital to success against COVID-19. Data in this report can be found on the public Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) dashboard.

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