This sort of reality check is devastating to public health messaging integrity.

Take the case of Marin County. Willis said that after reaching out to the county’s three hospitals, his department discovered that five of the 19 hospitalizations are patients in a psychiatric ward who tested positive for COVID-19 but are experiencing no symptoms. The county then revised the daily hospitalization count from 19 to 14, but further investigation unearthed even more incidental cases.

According to Willis, two more of those original 19 hospitalizations are pregnant women in obstetric units who are also asymptomatic. Another is a patient undergoing orthopedic surgery, and Willis said he wouldn’t be surprised if he learned that even more hospitalizations are incidental cases.

Looking at the bigger picture, at least 42% of Marin County’s reported hospitalizations on Monday were “incidental COVID,” a figure somewhat in line with other locations. The Florida-based Jackson Health Center reported that 57% of COVID-19-positive patients were “admitted to the hospital primarily for non-COVID reasons” while a study of hospital admissions from a city in South Africa found that 62% of patients had “incidental COVID-19.”


What he has seen leads him to believe that intensive care unit numbers are a more reliable metric than hospitalizations.

Source: COVID hospitalizations ‘spiked’ in Marin County. Except they didn’t.

When I was in college, I worked at a local hospital. The hospital reached its maximum patient occupancy every January. This was explained, then, that many people had postponed procedures to past the Nov-Dec holidays, and that some simply vowed to finally address issues in the new year. The result was our local hospital had to open its one extra overflow floor every January.

I wonder if this phenomenon goes on today? This could explain the increasing hospitalization numbers, coupled with the frequent testing and finding asymptomatic cases in patients.

Also, I see that others are now calling for ICU and ventilator numbers as the useful metric – rather than hospitalizations and definitely not “positive test case counts”.

By EdwardM

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