The bad news: COVID-19 appears to be filling patients throughout the South and the Southwest with patients with a deadly, highly contagious disease.
The good news: The federal government is now publishing a COVID-19 hospital bed occupancy map that looks terrible.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been trying to track COVID-19 with a weekly collection of maps, tables and charts based largely on the data sources and methods used to track influenza.
- The CDC’s weekly COVID-19 report is available here.
- The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic is available here.
- The HHS hospital capacity data is available here.
- An overview article about the COVID-19 data for the previous week is available here.
The idea has been that, in many ways, early and mild cases of COVID-19 are similar to cases of the flu, and that the CDC could use its flu tracking system to monitor the new pandemic.
But, for whatever reason, the CDC’s flu-based tracking system shows appears to show that the United States has defeated COVID-19. The CDC’s weekly COVIDView report shows that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is much lower than it was in April, and that the number of new cases appearing at primary care clinics, urgent care centers and hospital emergency rooms “out in the community” is low.
News organizations, meanwhile, are reporting that hospital administrators throughout most of the South and Southwest say patients with serious cases of COVID-19 are filling their intensive care units.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made a controversial move in July to have a new HHS team take charge of collecting COVID-19 hospitalization data.
State and local public health officials have complained about concerns about the new HHS COVID-19 hospital capacity map, such as worries about delays in map updates.
But, unlike the tracking tools in the latest CDC COVIDView report, which came out Friday, the new HHS COVID-19 hospitalization map appears to be compatible with what the news organizations and the hospital administrators are reporting: As of July 27, patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 wre filling 15% or more of all hospital beds throughout the South and the Southwest.
COVID-19 patients were filling 25% or more of all hospital bed in at least five states, including California, Florida and Texas.
A team at The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic has numbers that appear to tell a similar story.
The COVID Tracking Project spreadsheet shows that, as of July 27, COVID-19 patients were filling 59,023 hospital beds, up from 58,372 a week earlier.
One way to adjust hospitalization figures for a state’s population is to look at the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.
At the state level, the reported number of COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 lives ranged from about 1 per 100,000 lives, in Maine, up to a high of 42 per 100,000 lives, in Florida.
Those figures mean that, in Florida, about 1 in every 2,500 Florida residents was in the hospital with COVID-19.
The median number of hospitalizations was 7.3 per 100,000 lives, meaning that, in a typical state, about 1 in every 13,000 residents was in the hospital with COVID-19.
The median was down from 7.7 per 100,000 lives on July 20, but still about twice as high as it was in mid-June, which is the lowest the reported COVID-19 hospitalization rate has been since mid-March, when the United States began large-scale COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 Hospitalization Rates, by State
|This table shows the number of people hospitalized, with confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, by state, per 100,000 residents, as of July 27.|
|Hospitalizations||Population||Hospitalizations per 100,000 residents|
|District of Columbia||102||705,749||14.5|
|Sources: Hospitalization numbers: The COVID Tracking Project (CC BY-NC 4.0). Population: Census Bureau, 2019 estimates|
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