Solano County does not have reliable information on each day’s new COVID hospitalizations

Dr. Matyas responds to my request for daily updates on TOTAL hospitalizations since the pandemic began

By Roger Straw, September 28, 2020
Roger Straw, The Benicia Independent

On September 24, I wrote to Dr. Bela Matyas, asking him to restore a TOTAL count of COVID hospitalizations since the pandemic began:

Please consider this request:  From the earliest days of the pandemic and through July 10, the County’s COVID dashboard showed Total Hospitalizations.

Beginning on July 13, the dashboard only shows Current Hospitalizations.  The daily change in Current Hospitalizations must be the difference between admissions and discharges, plus or minus, which is important to know.

However, the public needs to also know how many NEW admissions on a daily basis in order to accurately understand spread.  This can easily be seen in the daily update of Total Hospitalizations.

Please consider restoring Total Hospitalizations to the COVID dashboard.

Dr. Matyas sent the following reply on September 27:
Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Public Health Officer

“The daily change in total hospitalizations does not faithfully represent new hospitalizations; the majority of added hospitalizations day over day is from reconciliation of previously hospitalized cases that we learn about in arrears. It is likely to be a substantially under-reported number.

Hospitalization is not a reportable condition on an individual level; hospital capacity is the condition that we are monitoring, and total hospitalizations per day is the relevant metric. Reporting total hospitalizations to date on a daily basis would be a misleading indicator for tracking new hospitalizations both because of the timing of reports and the under-reporting of hospitalizations.”

My response today:

Dr. Matyas – Thank you for your response to my email. With respect, I think I disagree. Regardless whether a daily update of TOTAL hospitalizations since the outbreak began includes ONLY new hospitalizations TODAY or both new TODAY and “newly learned in arrears” hospitalizations, the metric of total hospitalizations (and a 7 or 14 day average graph showing the curve of that metric) would be of great significance in understanding the overall spread of the most serious cases.

This daily increase, whether learned in arrears or not, is important for the public’s awareness. MOST IMPORTANTLY, reporting on hospitalizations in this way might help in cautioning the public to take seriously the continuing need for masks, social distancing, hand washing, etc. As our public health officer, I’d hope you might stop and think about this again. Seems it wouldn’t hurt the cause at all to add this metric to the County’s COVID dashboard, and shouldn’t be too hard to calculate the data as I have been doing, working from the AGE GROUP data.

I will continue to add together the newly reported daily reported increase of hospitalizations in the AGE GROUP data in order to determine the daily increase in TOTAL hospitalizations. And I will continue to let the public know.

Roger Straw

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