On Monday, Massachusetts began reporting whether or not a patient was hospitalized as the primary result of COVID-19, or if they were simply admitted to the hospital for another ailment and happened to test positive for COVID-19. This is markedly different from the way Massachusetts and other states have been recording COVID-19 cases for the past two years.
The Boston Herald reported that the Department of Health announced last week that “hospitals will start on Monday reporting whether admissions are primary or incidental to COVID-19.” It should be noted that GOP Governor Charlie Baker had been saying for quite some time that cases were possibly being over-counted.
“When you call the hospitals and you talk to them one at a time, or the systems, a significant number of the people who they … count as COVID-positive are not in the hospital because they have COVID,” Baker said in the fall of 2020. “They’re in the hospital for some other purpose and they got tested positive when they came in.”
But now the Omicron variant is surging to record highs, and often presenting a milder form of COVID-19. The result is that patients concerned about COVID-19 are heading to the hospital emergency room, only to be shortly discharged due to non-severe cases.
According to the Boston Herald, one Democratic state representative had recently spoken out about this problem:
State Rep. Jon Santiago, D-Boston, an emergency room doctor at Boston Medical Center, tweeted last week that during a recent stretch of ER shifts a “significant number of my COVID patients fell into 2 buckets: mild symptoms & discharged OR were admitted for non-COVID reasons BUT tested positive for COVID (all admitted patients are tested).”
“Of course, that presents a different set of challenges but the fact that many patients weren’t primarily admitted FOR COVID but rather for other medical issues should add nuance to the ‘COVID hospitalization’ numbers,” Santiago wrote. “This shouldn’t take away from the bed crunch we face, a serious issue already present pre-COVID.”
Massachusetts joins states like New York who are now adding “nuance” to their COVID-19 case numbers.
The change comes just weeks after White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted that hospitals were often “overcounting” COVID-19 cases in children.
“First of all, quantitatively, you’re having so many more people, including children, who are getting infected. And even though hospitalization among children is much, much lower on a percentage basis than hospitalizations for adults, particularly elderly individuals,” Fauci said in late December on MSNBC, “when you have such a large volume of infections among children, even with a low level of rate of infection, you’re going to still see a lot more children who get hospitalized.”
“But the other important thing is that if you look at the children who are hospitalized, many of them are hospitalized with COVID as opposed to because of COVID,” he added. “And what we mean by that — if a child goes in the hospital, they automatically get tested for COVID. And they get counted as a COVID-hospitalized individual. When in fact, they may go in for a broken leg or appendicitis or something like that. So it’s over-counting the number of children who are, quote, ‘hospitalized with COVID,’ as opposed to because of COVID.”
While health officials and the Biden administration claim “the science” is behind the changes to COVID-19 procedures, others, like Fox News’ Lisa Boothe, have speculated that they are more motivated by the 20222 midterms:
“It’s really sad that an upcoming election has finally revealed some honesty about COVID,” Boothe tweeted. “They had no problem stirring fear to impact the 2020 election & now they are trying [to] mitigate the damage heading into the midterms. Remember what these people did. Don’t forget or forgive.”
It’s really sad that an upcoming election has finally revealed some honesty about COVID. They had no problem stirring fear to impact the 2020 election & now they are trying mitigate the damage heading into the midterms. Remember what these people did. Don’t forget or forgive.
— Lisa Boothe 🇺🇸 (@LisaMarieBoothe) January 10, 2022