Widespread Coronavirus Cases Could Tax U.S. Hospitals

Providers already face a global disruption in medical supplies and an expected shortage in rooms that could safely isolate patients

As the coronavirus threatens to spread across the U.S., federal health authorities expand the criteria for whom should be tested and streamline test-kit approvals. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

The spread of coronavirus world-wide has intensified efforts to prepare for a U.S. outbreak, with hospitals straining to increase capacity to handle an influx of contagious patients and local governments mulling closures as a precaution.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week warned of a possible pandemic, a day before confirming that a California patient may be the first diagnosed case of the new coronavirus in the U.S. with no clear idea of how the patient was exposed. That suggests the virus might be spreading...