On Aug. 13, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown claimed that Oregon hospitals are being overwhelmed by a surge in COVID cases. But what has caused Oregon hospitals to be ill-prepared for a 20 percent increase in patients? Data from American Hospital Association and Kaiser, New York Times, Washington Post and other news articles, the Oregon Health Authority website and the standard sources of industry information make clear the following:
Since 2013, Oregon has had the lowest hospital beds per capita in the U.S. along with Washington at 1.7 per thousand. California is also poor at 1.8 per thousand.
In 1980, Oregon had 3.5 beds per thousand while the U.S. average was 4.5 per thousand. The current U.S. average is 2.4 per thousand. If Oregon had the U.S. average ratio, we would have 10,294 beds, a current large surplus and no current crisis.
As of Aug. 26, OHA shows 1,103 covid patient-occupied beds, 19.9 percent of capacity and cannot be stated to be a crisis if hospital beds were not already max-filled with regular patients at 90 percent capacity.
Europe has many more beds per capita than the U.S. Since 2013, California, Oregon and Washington, the first three states to go into serious lockdown, have had inadequately designed hospital capacities which may explain early lockdowns.
The 1980 move to austerity and privatization has incrementally deconstructed U.S. public commons services such as hospital capacity. Capitalist-driven efficiency policies of as-needed-supply do not serve the social needs of humanity. It’s time to end the 40-year trickle-down desocialization experiment and replace it with a direct democracy, collectively determined socialism.