The chief medical officer at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington says the hospital is prepared for an expected rise in COVID-19 cases, but they could become overwhelmed as the coronavirus spreads.
Dr. Paul Pedersen said OSF has enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for now.
“If usage becomes significantly heavier it will put more of a strain on those resources,” Pedersen said. “It’s always a concern.”
Pedersen said for now, medical facilities are relying largely on donated supplies from non-emergency medical providers.
Pedersen said the FDA's approval of rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 will help ramp up testing, but it's not clear when medical providers will get them.
“We need to be starting to ship those before long for the people and places who request them,” he said. “However, they agree that demand is going to be more than supply, so we don’t know how fast those are going to come in.”
Pedersen said even if the tests are delivered to hospitals soon, OSF would still only be able to test those who are severely ill.
He said that's why it's clear the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases isn't an accurate reflection of how pervasive the coronavirus is in the community. He added that while a majority of cases are relatively mild, the underreporting of cases can lead to inflated mortality rates.
“When we talk about mortality rates, it’s only those with those patients that we know of who have the disease,” he said. "It probably falsely elevates both the complication rates and the mortality rates.”
McLean County has eight confirmed COVID-19 cases so far and one death. The state of Illinois reported 250 news cases Tuesday, updating the statewide total to 1,535 in 32 counties and 16 deaths.
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