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Resumption of elective surgeries in the US to be short-lived

During March and April 2020, many hospitals in the US postponed non-urgent, elective surgeries. This was to protect non-Covid-19 patients from contracting the disease in hospitals, to protect healthcare staff from transmission from patients potentially carrying the virus, and to divert resources such as hospital beds and ventilators to treat Covid-19 patients in critical condition.

By the end of May 2020, elective surgeries had resumed in over 30 states. However, GlobalData anticipates that elective procedures will soon be postponed once again across the country, as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the US reaches record highs.

As the number of new Covid-19 cases is rising rapidly in the western and southern regions of the US, hospitals in the following states have already started to cancel elective surgeries:

Elective surgeries in Alabama and Arizona

Huntsville Hospital in northern Alabama has started to postpone elective procedures that require inpatient stays, as the number of new Covid-19 cases increases in the state. However, the hospital will continue outpatient procedures. GlobalData expects that additional hospitals in the state will follow suit.

While the governor of Arizona allowed for the reopening of the state’s economy on 1 May, 2020, the governor is now requiring hospitals to cancel elective procedures to ensure sufficient space and resources for Covid-19 patients. Large healthcare networks in the state, such as Banner Health, are preparing for a spike in patients with Covid-19, as 45% of all Covid-19 patients are receiving care in hospitals run by Banner Health.

The healthcare network indicates that efforts to reduce the number of patients waiting to receive care since March have been reversed, as the state is experiencing a rapid rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases. However, the healthcare system will not be postponing all elective procedures, but only those that require inpatient hospital stays. Therefore, patients who require outpatient procedures will still be able to receive treatment. Hospital intensive care units (ICUs) are now almost full as the state contends with a large number of Covid-19 cases in critical condition.


Hospitals in South Florida have announced that they will be postponing elective procedures, as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the region rises. This, in part, could be due to the fact that the state has used up its supply of remdesivir. Approximately 50,000 new Covid-19 cases have been reported in Florida over the past week. Miami-Dade is the hardest-hit county in the state with over 38,000 confirmed cases in that time.

Hospital networks such as Jackson Health System are now cancelling all elective surgeries to free up hospital beds and resources for Covid-19 patients throughout July. The hospital system is already reporting an increase in the number of staff testing positive for the virus. In the county of Broward, the region with the second-highest number of new Covid-19 cases, Memorial Healthcare System is delaying elective procedures that require overnight hospital stays but will continue with outpatient procedures.


For a second time since the pandemic began, the governor of Texas banned elective surgeries in the counties of Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis to spare resources and hospital beds for Covid-19 patients. The number of hospitalisations due to Covid-19 has reached record levels in the state, with over 4,700 patients receiving care.

Some hospitals have already reached ICU capacity, including Texas Medical Center in Houston. The previous statewide elective surgery ban lasted one month before elective surgeries were allowed to resume. GlobalData expects the new ban will soon include additional regions in the state, as the number of new cases continues to rise.

While it is unclear when procedures will return to pre-Covid-19 levels, GlobalData does not expect this to occur in 2020. As the number of new cases continues to rise, waitlists will continue to grow, leading to a backlog of patients who might be waiting multiple years to receive care.

For more insight and data, visit GlobalData's Medical Intelligence Centre