In northern Italy, one of the hardest-hit regions in the world, doctors have reported shortages of ventilators for COVID-19 patients, and an Italian medical society even issued guidelines on how to prioritize those needing intensive care.
New York state has its own plan for how to ration ventilators during a pandemic. In 2015, the state’s Task Force on Life and Law, which operates under the Department of Health, published a 266-page document with voluntary guidelines for hospitals.
According to the report, there are an estimated 8,991 ventilators in New York, including emergency stockpiles. At any given time, an estimated 85% of non-stockpile ventilators are already in use for other acute-care patients. (Stockpile refers to the government’s emergency supply.)