In recent weeks, the number of Covid-19 cases has soared in San Diego County from about 350 per day to 3-5 times that rate. The graph of hospitalizations and ICU admissions below would seem to reflect that same rise. But looks may be deceiving. The local media has been screaming about how the hospitals are overflowing. However, you have to read the fine print under the graph.
They changed the way they count the number of hospitalizations with Covid-19. The increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions may reflect just the way they count and not a real rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. The local sensational media does not read the fine print by just reports that hospitalizations are zooming and our County Health officials do not go out of their way to correct the misunderstanding. After I posted this blog, I heard a County Supervisor, Nathan Hatcher, say in an Covid-19 update that this new counting procedure was mandated by the federal government. So, it is apparently nation-wide, if counties are following CDC guidlines. You can see that statement at 12:25 in this video.
It is difficult to read the fine print on the above image. You can click on the image to get a larger view, but I have reposted it below in larger letters. The important part is highlighted in yellow.
Data are preliminary and subject to change; data from hospitals reporting directly to County of San Diego; census for San Diego County non-federal hospitals; includes cases and suspect COVID-19 patients for San Diego County residents and non-residents; *Starting 10/31, COVID hospital census numbers will show an increase due to to change in the hospital census definition. Previously, COVID-19 hospitalized patients stopped being counted as a COVID-19 hospitalized patient after ten days. Now, they continue to be counted as a COVID-19 hospitalized patient for their entire stay in the hospital. Prepared by County of San Diego, Emergency Operations Center, 11/28/2020
It states that previously Covid-19 admissions were only counted for 10 days, but starting on October 31st they were going to count all Covid-19 patients, as long as they are in the hospital. It sounds like pantients with other serious health issues can recover from Covid-19 and still be counted as a Covid-19 patient. This could produce an significant rise in the number of hospitalizations. Covid-19 is generally a mild illness and patients recover quickly. If a person enters the hospital with Covid-19 and other serious issues, but Covid-19 is not the main issue, after ten days the illness is probably going to be resolved. If the person dies, even from some other cause, presumably they will also be counted as a Covid-19 death.
You cannot say that all of this rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions is caused by the change in counting procedure, but it would very well seem that much of it could be, if not all.