NY makes major adjustment to COVID hospitalization reporting during omicron surge

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New York made a major adjustment to how hospitals report patient intake by distinguishing between hospitalizations with COVID or because of COVID, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus surges. 

“So we’re looking at a critical moment, but we’re going to start asking some questions. We talked about the hospitalizations. I have always wondered, we’re looking at the hospitalizations of people testing positive in a hospital,” Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday. “Is that person in the hospital because of COVID or did they show up there and are routinely tested and showing positive and they may have been asymptomatic or even just had the sniffles.”

“Someone is in a car accident, they go to the emergency room, they test positive for COVID while they’re there. They’re not there being treated for COVID.”

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference the day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation at the New York State Capitol, in Albany, New York, August 11, 2021. 
(REUTERS/Cindy Schultz)

Hospitals must now clarify if patients with the virus came to the hospital due to symptoms of COVID or because of some other ailment. 

There were 9,563 New York residents in the hospital due to COVID as of Monday. That number is 290 admissions higher than the winter coronavirus peak of 2021. New York City data shows the daily seven-day average for hospitalizations is 469

There were 103 COVID-related deaths in the state on Sunday.

Hochul called the numbers “rather shocking” but noted that the severity of the omicron variant “is far less than we’ve seen before.” 

People queue for a coronavirus disease test at a popup COVID-19 testing site as the omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Manhattan, New York City, Dec. 27, 2021.
(REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

Hochul said she made random calls to a handful of hospital leaders about patient intake reporting and found 20%-to-50% differences in patients being treated for COVID versus patients being treated for other ailments and also testing positive. 

“Now, someone’s conditions can worsen while they’re in the hospital, I’m not saying that won’t happen, but I’ve just been doing a random call around to some of the hospital leaders that I touched base with them. I’m seeing numbers from 20, sometimes 50%, but we don’t have clear data right now. Now, that’s anecdotal,” she said.  

Hochul said the intake reporting change comes down to being honest with New Yorkers. 

“I just want to always be honest with New Yorkers about how bad this is. Yes, the sheer numbers of people infected are high, but I want to see whether or not the hospitalizations correlate with that,” she said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week also urged hospitals to distinguish which patients with COVID-19 are there because of the virus and which ones are there for other ailments but happen to test positive while they are there. One of the state’s largest hospital systems, Jackson Health System in Miami, has already implemented the practice. 

“I think that’s an important distinction to make when you have a variant like omicron which is much more widespread,” DeSantis said. “You are going to have people who get into a car accident and go into the emergency room. They’re swabbing everybody, and you’re going to have people that have incidental positives.”

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report. 

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