As the United States becomes the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with\u0026nbsp;more than 85,000 cases spread across the nation, healthcare workers around the country are increasingly facing difficult decisions about whether\u0026nbsp;life-saving measures can be taken for some of the sickest coronavirus patients.Two weeks ago, when fewer than 3,000 cases of the disease—officially called COVID-19—had been reported in the U.S., Americans read about doctors in Italy being forced to practice \u0022catastrophe medicine,\u0022 with medical experts recommending physicians take patients\u0026#039; age and any comorbidities—meaning other health conditions or diseases—into account before using resources to offer intensive care.\u0026nbsp;\u0022Elites in this country have long tolerated a dysfunctional health care system because, while it delivers relatively poor results for many people, it provides good care for those at the top. But now Americans of all classes are going to be competing for the same scarce health resources.\u0022 —Michelle Goldberg, New York TimesAccording to reporting by the Washington Post and other outlets, those same decisions are now being made in hospital systems across the United States.As the Post reported, Northwestern Memorial Hospital officials in Chicago are considering a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) policy for infected patients to cope with a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves, and gowns for doctors and nurses—putting healthcare workers at risk as they struggle to save as many lives as possible.As Common Dreams reported last week, 250 doctors and nurses reported critical shortages of PPE in a survey by NBC News. Caregivers are being forced to reuse or ration N95 and surgical masks, and a nursing manager at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York died from COVID-19 Tuesday following reports that nurses at the renowned hospital were being forced to wear trash bags instead of medical-grade protective gowns.\u0026nbsp;According to the Post, medical staffers at the hospital are informing family members of coronavirus patients that if their loved ones decline and go into cardiac or respiratory arrest, the PPE shortage is making it difficult for doctors and nurses to safely resuscitate the patient.\u0022A consequence of those conversations,\u0022 intensive care medical director Richard Wunderink told the Post, \u0022is that many family members are making the difficult choice to sign do-not-resuscitate orders.\u0022In Michigan, the Henry Ford Health System confirmed to the Detroit Free Press on Friday the veracity of a hospital memo that circulated this week in which medical officers informed patients and their families that \u0022because of shortages, we will need to be careful with resources.\u0022\u0022If you (or a family member) becomes ill and your medical doctor believes that you need extra care in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Mechanical Ventilation (breathing machine) you will be assessed for eligibility based only on your specific condition,\u0022 the hospital network wrote. \u0022Some patients will be extremely sick and very unlikely to survive their illness even with critical treatment. Treating these patients would take away resources for patients who might survive.\u0022The letter was sent to prepare the communities served by the Henry Ford Health System for the \u0022worst case scenario,\u0022 Dr.\u0026nbsp;Adnan Munkarah told the Free Press.\u0022With a pandemic, we must be prepared for worst case,\u0022 the network tweeted. \u0022With collective wisdom from our industry, we crafted a policy to provide guidance for making difficult patient care decisions. We hope never to have to apply them.\u0022Atrium Health, Geisinger Health System, and regional Kaiser Permanente medical centers are also considering overriding their DNR policies because of the shortage of PPE and life-saving equipment such as ventilators, according to the Post.\u0026nbsp;The news of doctors and nurses being forced to ration care comes as President Donald Trump has refused for weeks to invoke the Defense Production Act to order private companies to produce medical equipment, and objected to $1 billion in federal spending to order the production of tens of thousands of ventilators by General Motors.Trump\u0026#039;s refusal to take action in order to help save lives and support overwhelmed healthcare workers called to mind for some critics the right-wing \u0022death panels\u0022 narrative which was deployed by opponents of the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration.I never want to hear about socialist death panels again pic.twitter.com/xlqhKqBwgN— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) March 27, 2020On Friday morning, Trump appeared to invoke the Defense Production Act in a series of tweets.\u0026nbsp;\u0022America is not alone in facing such harrowing calculations,\u0022 wrote columnist Michelle Goldberg at the New York Times this week, noting the decisions made by doctors in Italy. \u0022But with our hyper-privatized and grossly unequal health care system, the crisis here could be even worse.\u0022\u0022Elites in this country have long tolerated a dysfunctional health care system because, while it delivers relatively poor results for many people, it provides good care for those at the top,\u0022 Goldberg wrote.\u0026nbsp;\u0022For a lucky few, everything ugly and unfair about American health care might, in the past, have seemed like someone else\u0026#039;s problem.\u0022\u0022But now Americans of all classes are going to be competing for the same scarce health resources,\u0022 she added.