COVID-19: Where coronavirus hospitalizations are falling

May 15, 2020

Coronavirus hospitalizations have declined in many states — another indication that social distancing has been effective at curbing the virus’ spread.

Chad Jones

(Source: Axios)

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, Harvard Global Health Institute; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus hospitalizations have declined in many states — another indication that social distancing has been effective at curbing the virus’ spread, Axios’ Bob Herman reports.

Why it matters: Hospitalizations are an important metric to watch to gauge the severity of the outbreak, especially because testing shortfalls have skewed some other measurements.

  • Those numbers aren’t falling everywhere, and any approach to reopening needs to be carefully managed to prevent them spiking yet again.

Between the lines: Hospitals need to report this data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention daily, but we still don’t have real-time numbers, due in part to the failures of the country’s electronic health data infrastructure.

What the data show: Among the 40 states that have consistently provided data, COVID-19 hospitalizations are taking up a smaller percentage of all occupied hospital beds in many states, including hotspots like Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.

  • No more than 25% of hospital beds in any state are occupied by coronavirus patients.

Yes, but: Hospitalization rates aren’t dropping, and in some cases are rising, in several states, including Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Virginia.

What’s next: Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator of infection, because it takes a while for people to feel sick and seek care — so the coming weeks will provide a clearer picture of whether some states and hospitals are getting hammered again.

Go deeper: High-risk states are seeing fewer new coronavirus cases