U.S. health system is showing why it’s not ready for a coronavirus pandemic

In Rhode Island, where two cases have been detected, doctors in protective gear were testing patients with mild symptoms in a hospital parking lot rather than allowing them to enter the emergency room. Officials said the emergency measure was being wound down Tuesday as the state’s testing capacity grows.

Officials in King County, Wash., this week said they were purchasing a motel to house patients who needed to be placed in isolation.

In rural areas of Texas and elsewhere, small hospitals do not have test kits, and central labs for testing samples are hours away. That means hospitals will be unable to conclusively determine whether they have people with covid-19 among their usual seasonal surge in influenza patients…

Ventilators and intensive care units, necessary to keep the most acutely ill patients alive, are largely limited to larger hospitals and academic medical centers in cities.