Since soon after the start of the pandemic, hospitals and public health authorities have refused to acknowledge the important distinction between patients being hospitalized with COVID and those being hospitalized (or those who eventually succumbed) because of COVID. Authorities unwillingness to acknowledge this distinction has led to both the “casedemic” and people who have died from motorcycle accidents being counted as COVID deaths.

Now, Politico reports that the Biden Administration is working on recalculating the number of COVID hospitalizations in the US to exclude those who may have tested positive for COVID, but were actually being treated for something else.

A task force comprised of scientists and data specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working with hospitals nationwide to improve Covid-19 reporting. The group is asking hospitals to report numbers of patients who go to the facility because they have Covid-19 and separate those from individuals who go in for other reasons and test positive after being admitted, the two officials said.

As the majority of Americans clamor for all COVID restrictions to be dropped after two years of living with the pandemic (and the onerous government restrictions imposed supposedly to help combat its spread), it seems the Biden administration is suddenly concerned with getting an “accurate sense” of hospitalizations caused by the virus.

The administration’s goal is to get a more accurate sense of Covid-19’s impact across the country and whether the virus is causing severe disease. Senior Biden health officials have increasingly relied on hospitalization numbers, rather than case counts, to determine how to respond to the virus as well as the efficacy of the vaccines. Lower hospitalization rates could inform the administration’s thinking on public health measures such as masking. More accurate Covid-19 numbers also could provide a better picture of the strain on hospitals and which resources they might need during surges.

Of course, accomplishing this won’t be easy. Each case will need to be reviewed by a “panel of experts” in an arduous process.

Recalculating the hospitalization rate will not be easy, said Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research and former advisory board member of the Covid Tracking Project, a team that worked to collect and synthesize local Covid-19 data during the peak of the pandemic.

“You need a panel of experts to review the cases to adjudicate if a hospitalization is for a person who came in for Covid or with Covid,” Topol said. “It’s not something that is coded in the chart. A lot of people will say an individual came in with Covid, but it was actually the Covid that exacerbated the lung or heart disease.”

The Trump Administration tried something similar during the height of the pandemic back in 2020. But while some hospital systems have changed how they count COVID admissions, many haven’t. Two senior Biden Administration officials reportedly told Politico that the process of getting every hospital in the country to “report accurately” will take several months.

“While the guidance and intent of the hospital data collection is to capture people who are admitted for Covid (vs with Covid), in practice the data reported varies by entity,” a senior official at HHS told POLITICO in a statement. “Some entities may be able to delineate…but we do not do this in the national dataset.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said recently that COVID hospitalizations are “still quite high” even as case numbers have come down. Yesterday, NJ Gov. Phil Murphy set forth a timeline for lifting masking requirements in the Garden State’s public schools, the latest indication that politicians are swiftly trying to bring life back to normal.

Republished from with permission

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