Are We Prepared for a Rush to Hospitals, Ventilators? Azar Responds

Susan Jones | March 13, 2020 | 7:11am EDT
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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Even health experts now admit the U.S. coronavirus testing system is inadequate; but is the worst yet to come? Can hospitals deal with an influx of coronavirus patients who need ventilators and other emergency measures?

Fox News's Sean Hannity asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Thursday about the "worst-case scenario" Thursday night.

Azar said the U.S. needs every day it can get to prepare for an influx of ill patients.

"Let's say this becomes far worse than anybody's expecting now," Hannity said. "Are our health care providers, hospitals, health care workers that take care of our sick, are we prepared for a worst-case scenario? Will triage centers be available at a moment's notice? Will we have the ability to set up the facilities necessary to take care of people if the numbers are larger than we maybe expect?"

Azar told Hannity his answer has "two parts." He said that every day an influx can be avoided "is another day of getting more and more prepared."

First, the aggressive mitigation and containement  steps president trump is taking -- try to actually elongate and push out and make shorter that epidemiological curve, basically make the severity of impact on the country lesser but perhaps longer and push it out so that our health care resources can be spread out over a longer period of time.

Then second, we have surged material in our strategic national stockpile. We have field medical hospital shelters, these are basically mash units for hundreds of people that we can use as isolation beds, where we can put people who are suffering and can recover.

We have masks, we have surgical masks, we have medicines, we are working on therapeutics, we're working on vaccines, so every day the president buys us with his aggressive measures is another day of getting more and more prepared because we prepare for the worst while trying to prevent it from happening.

Hannity followed up: "All right. You're convinced that an area like Seattle, if things get worse, we will have the ability to get boots on the ground, whatever facilities, whatever is needed for the American people? You're ready?"

"Sean, not just ability, we have the boots on the ground in Seattle where they're helping the people in Washington already."

And that's where the interview ended.


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