This case series from early in the Seattle outbreak showed that the most common reasons for admission to the ICU were hypoxemic respiratory failure leading to mechanical ventilation, hypotension requiring vasopressor treatment, or both, and half of these patients died within two weeks of ICU admission.
This was a case series of 24 patients from nine Seattle-area hospitals who were admitted to the ICU with COVID-19 infections. Their mean age 64 years, 63% were men, and symptoms began 7 days before admission. The most common symptoms were cough and shortness of breath, half of them had fever on admission, and 58% had diabetes.
All the patients were admitted for respiratory failure and low oxygen saturation, and 75% needed mechanical ventilation. Most also had hypotension and needed vasopressor support. None of them also tested positive for influenza A, influenza B, or other respiratory viruses.
Half the patients died between before the 18th day of ICU admission, including 4 patients who had a DNR order. Of the 12 surviving at 14 days, 5 were discharged home, 4 were remained in the hospital but not the ICU, and 3 continued to receive mechanical ventilation in the ICU.