Hospitals fear shortage of ventilators for virus patients

This undated photo provided by Vyaire Medical, Inc. shows a VELA ventilator. U.S. hospitals bracing for a possible onslaught of coronavirus patients with pneumonia and other breathing difficulties could face a critical shortage of mechanical ventilators and health care workers to operate them. (Ken Hansen/Vyaire Medical, Inc. via AP)

(AP) - U.S. hospitals bracing for a possible onslaught of coronavirus patients with pneumonia and other breathing difficulties could face a critical shortage of mechanical ventilators.

The Society of Critical Care Medicine projects that 960,000 coronavirus patients in the U.S. may need to be put on ventilators at one point or another during the outbreak.

But the nation has only about 200,000 of the machines, by the organization’s estimate, and around half are older models that may not be ideal for the most critically ill patients.

Also, many of the ventilators are already being used by other patients.

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