Dr. Irwin Redlener on coronavirus: 'Our hospital systems need to be more ready than they currently are'

Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told Fox News Thursday a full blown coronavirus outbreak is "inevitable" and that hospitals are not ready for the pandemic.

"So the prediction is that if we get a full blown outbreak in the United States, which is essentially inevitable right now, that the next couple of weeks we could be facing huge increases in the number of patients sick with coronavirus who need hospitalization and intensive care," Redlener told "Bill Hemmer Reports". "And the estimates are, we were between 75,000 and 100,000 short on the number of available ICU beds in the United States overall, which was an extraordinary number."

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Hemmer asked the doctor to clarify if it was too late for hospitals to prepare for the virus. Redlener made clear in response that it was not time to panic.

"It is probably too late because we have an unknown number of cases. Since we haven't been doing testing, we're now making assumptions," Redlener said. "But I'm specifically talking here about my biggest concern at the moment, which is not about the testing. It is about the fact that our hospital systems need to be more ready than they currently are. That's really what I want to focus on. It changes nothing in terms of what the public should be doing."

The vast majority of people recover from coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). People mildly affected by the illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

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Redlener said members of the public are responding well to health advice given by local and federal officials.

"They are separating ... We're getting really good response to recommendations about personal hygiene, keeping people separated," Redlener said. "We're closing down a lot of large events. The public is doing fine. I am not concerned about them and they should not be panicked."