As the rain picked up, the ambulance sped across the largest city in the Amazon. In the back, a 78-year-old man lay disoriented, unable to say who he was, slipping in and out of consciousness. The coronavirus had reached his brain, emergency physician Alessandra Said realized. He was in danger of dying. They didn’t have much time.
But in a city isolated by geography and overwhelmed by disease, Said didn’t know of a single hospital with space left for coronavirus patients. The hunt for a bed could take hours, and some patients didn’t survive to see its conclusion. She looked down at the man — bald and frail, writhing on his stretcher — and hoped that this one would.