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  • Hospitals are confronting the rising threat of the novel coronavirus in the US. 
  • The spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the US could push the healthcare system to its limits. 
  • In a February webinar presentation hosted by the American Hospital Association, an expert laid out “best guess” estimates about how many Americans could be impacted. 
  • He projected that there could be as many as 96 million cases in the US, 4.8 million hospitalizations, and 480,000 deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hospitals are bracing for millions of Americans to be hospitalized as part of the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

The American Hospital Association, which represents thousands of hospitals and health systems, hosted a webinar in February with its member hospitals and health systems. Business Insider obtained a copy of the slides presented

The presentation, titled “What healthcare leaders need to know: Preparing for the COVID-19” happened February 26, with representatives from the National Ebola Training and Education Center. 

As part of the presentation to hospitals, Dr. James Lawler, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center gave his “best guess” estimates of how much the virus might spread in the US.

Lawler’s estimates include:

  • 4.8 million hospitalizations associated with the novel coronavirus
  • 96 million cases overall in the US
  • 480,000 deaths
  • Overall, the slide points out that hospitals should prepare for an impact to the system that’s 10 times a severe flu season. 

Here’s the slide: 

Screen Shot 2020 03 06 at 1.41.37 PM

The slide does not give a particular time frame.

The slide represents “his interpretation of the data available. It’s possible that forecast will change as more information becomes available,” a spokesman for Nebraska Medicine told Business Insider in an email. 

The American Hospital Association said the webinar reflects the views of the experts who spoke on it, not its own.

“The AHA regularly hosts webinars and conference calls that include a variety of voices and opinions that seek to provide relevant information to professionals at hospitals and health systems that are on the front lines of preparing for and protecting their patients and communities,” a spokeswoman for the AHA told Business Insider in an emailed statement. “The slides you shared reflect the various perspectives of field experts and should not be attributed to the AHA.”

In particular, the slide points out that hospitals should prepare for an impact to the system that’s 10 times a severe flu season. 

Lawler isn’t alone in anticipating widespread infections. Marc Lipsitch an epidemiology professor at Harvard University told The Atlantic he predicts anywhere from 40-70% of people globally will be infected with the novel coronavirus within the next year. 

See the presentation hospitals are using to prepare for a major coronavirus outbreak in the US.

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