Read the entire paper here. Many media stories wrote about the paper yesterday and today, here is a Medical News Today article as an example. Most news stories tend to focus on the worst case scenario price tag of a pandemic, estimated somewhere around $675 billion. This is a small part of the actual report, which tackles a much broader range of topics. Here is an excerpt on dealing with the likely spike in hospital visits:
Communities and health care facilities may have to look to other facilities to hold the sick and adopt diversion strategies for non emergency patients. Additional hospital bed capacity may be created by setting up field hospitals and using auxiliary sites such as shelters, schools, religious facilities, nursing homes, hotels and day care centers. Wide variations exist among communities in the ability of local officials to cope with an outbreak, with smaller jurisdictions likely at a disadvantage. The suggestion has been made that government facilities and health care personnel could provide a significant surge capacity, but as Box 2 discusses, the medical capacity of the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security is also limited. Policymakers may need to adopt a strategy to encourage home treatment for those with less serious symptoms to reduce overcrowding in hospitals and also to contain the spread of pandemic flu by reducing the number of contacts between infected and noninfected individuals. A home treatment strategy would require a system to provide training and support for home caregivers.
Some public health experts have argued that quarantine measures to combat pandemic flu will fail. As noted earlier, such measures worked well in slowing the spread of SARS, but SARS is much less contagious than the flu and has a longer incubation period. Unlike people with SARS, people with the flu can transmit the virus beginning one day before symptoms develop. Less stringent social distance measures—closing public places such as schools, shopping malls, and movie theaters—may be more effective because those measures do not require that infectious people be identified. As time goes by and the flu dissipates, however, people may begin to resume normal activities, which could lead to a second wave of flu infections.