Thursday's COVID-19 report from the Minnesota Department of Health includes a new method for revealing how many patients dealing with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus have been hospitalized.
The state health department is presenting cumulative numbers for hospitalizations (the total hospitalized throughout the pandemic) and daily new hospital and ICU admissions. But it is not providing the total number of patients currently hospitalized and in the ICU with COVID-19, as it has done in the past.
In Thursday's debut report, it shows there are four new ICU cases and 16 new non-ICU cases. Instead of a current hospitalized total, the department is releasing weekly reports that show the average number of patients hospitalized, which looks like this in the weekly report:
Next week, the health department plans to provide length of stay data for hospitalized patients.
Thursday's update includes 995 new positive tests for the coronavirus, 83 of which have been removed for an official count of 912 cases. Those positives are the result of 12,900 people tested, creating a 24-hour reporting period test positivity rate of 7.1%.
The positive test rate is lower from the perspective when the number of individuals producing positive tests (912) divided by total completed tests (21,159). In that case, the positivity rate is 4.3%.
The "tests completed" number is always higher than the "people tested" metric because some people get tested multiple times and those who test positive are only counted once, so it produces a less accurate positivity rate.
Three more people were added to the death toll in Thursday's report.
Coronavirus in Minnesota by the numbers:
- Total tests: 1,895,302 (up from 1,873,867)
- People tested: 1,336,851 (up from 1,323,951)
- Positive cases: 93,012 (up from 92,100)
- Deaths: 1,988 (up from 1,985)
- Patients no longer requiring isolation: 83,862 (up from 83,507)
There have also been 52 deaths where COVID-19 is listed by doctors as the "probable" cause, though it's not included in the official COVID-19 death toll.
Here's how MDH explained the change in hospitalization data:
As the pandemic has evolved, it has become clear that the two elements of hospital data that we feel are most important in our understanding of COVID are: hospital capacity and disease severity. Hospital capacity data is currently collected by the State Emergency Operations Center and is intended to evaluate hospital surge capacity. This data looks at the number of people who occupy hospital beds in Minnesota and are available on the Governor’s Response Dashboard, which is updated every weekday.
The hospitalization data on our Situation Update web page was added early in the pandemic and was meant to portray the number of cases with severe disease requiring hospitalization and to track changes over time. As we have learned more about what information is needed for the public and decision makers, we have learned these data are not meeting the need they were meant to address. In order to best understand the severity of disease we want to look at the proportion of cases admitted to the hospital. We currently provide data on the number of people in the hospital and in the ICU each day. However, this is kind combining two concepts of new admissions and length of stay. In order to provide the best information we have to describe what is happening with COVID-19 in Minnesota, specifically around severity of disease, we will be switching our hospitalization data on our Situation Update page to reflect the number of new admissions to the hospital and ICU for each day over the entire timeline of the pandemic. Next week, we will add additional data on hospitalizations to our weekly web report, which is updated each Thursday, to better describe what we know about cases who require hospitalization. One element of this will be length of stay for hospitalizations and ICU stays.