Change is rapid amid the coronavirus outbreak, and for state officials and public health experts, every day is a race against the disease. Infections are spreading quickly, and experts predict that tens of thousands of Oregonians may become ill. The sickest patients may far outnumber available hospital beds.
Gov. Kate Brown announced new state-led efforts last week to prepare for the surge in COVID-19 patients, including measures to conserve supplies and the establishment of a 250-bed emergency hospital in Salem in anticipation of a flood of COVID-19 in patients.
But the looming deficit in supplies and health care capacity herald a possible healthcare crisis. Medical experts believe the number of infections will double every 6.2 days, and one in five infected Oregonians will require medical care.
The virus has already spread to more than half of Oregon's 36 counties, and in many regions residents already face serious barriers to accessing health care.
The Oregonian/OregonLive analyzed and mapped the state's hospital capacity, as well as key demographic metrics, to help illustrate the potential gaps in health care services if COVID-19 infections become rampant, as public health experts predict.
The news organization gathered information from the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems about the number of existing hospitals and staffed hospital beds in every county in the state. Bed counts are based on data from 2019 and provide a snapshot of the state's health care system before the COVID-19 outbreak.
We paired the hospital data with census population and poverty figures for every county. Because people over 60 are especially vulnerable to the worst outcomes associated with COVID-19, we also included census data that tracks how many residents are 65 and older.
The resulting map shows where medical resources are concentrated and reveals areas where resources are lacking, and residents are more likely to face barriers accessing care.
The Oregonian/OregonLive is sharing its COVID-19 news stories as part of a local media project.
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