Georgia DPH lists a number of “hospitalizations” on their COVID-19 Daily Status Report. This is a cumulative number of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 while in the hospital. GEMA separately reports the number of patients currently hospitalized with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. Learn more about the two different ways Georgia tracks COVID hospitalizations.
The number of current hospitalizations of COVID + patients has been climbing. The numbers of currently hospitalized patients do not include the number of patients hospitalized who are “under investigation” (PUI) for COVID-19, only those who have tested positive. Early on, there were substantial numbers of PUI (about 50%). Now, with more efficient testing, we have a much higher ratio of confirmed cases to PUI, so current numbers cannot be compared easily with earlier numbers.
I wish we had more insight into the current hospitalizations, like how many people are hospitalized with COVID (patients at the hospital for other reasons) versus for COVID, and how many people are under investigation for COVID vs already tested positive. Also, what regions are these hospitalizations in, and what kind of beds these patients are in (are they in the ER, the ICU, etc.?).
Our overall hospital utilization (especially critical care beds and ventilator usage) has not changed much and we still have plenty of general and ICU beds across the state, but some hospitals are very full. Keep in mind the vast majority of these beds are for non-COVID patients. Most patients in the hospital are there for reasons other than COVID.
Like last Monday, most of the increase in today’s reports are in the ER beds. General beds are actually showing more capacity than they did on Thursday when we last got these reports. Tomorrow, they may shift to general and CC beds like they did last Tuesday.
NOTE: GEMA started collecting the number of currently hospitalized COVID patients on April 8th, and started sharing this information to the public on May 1. Data prior to May 1st were obtained from a graph shared by the governor’s press secretary, Cody Hall. (I removed the inaccurate data point on April 24th.)
The top graph above tracks the number of new hospitalization cases added to the Total Hospitalizations page on the DPH site each day. The data reporting used to be very laggy (see the big spikes), but I think DPH has improved the timeliness of the reporting so that the data is more valuable now. Learn more about the two different ways Georgia tracks COVID hospitalizations.
I also calculate the hospitalization rate from this number (the 7-day average of new hospitalizations divided by the 7-day average of new cases). Despite the spikes from prior reporting lags, you can see the overall downward trend, indicating that less cases are being identified in hospitals than before. However, due to how the data is collected by DPH, I cannot be certain that it means less overall cases are being hospitalized.
Regional Hospital Capacity
GEMA tracks detailed numbers for hospital bed capacity in each of Georgia’s hospital regions, as well as overall. They report these numbers in their Daily Situation Report available on their web site, and shared on their Twitter and Facebook.
Georgia manages hospital capacity based on the regions above. Below is data from GEMA on bed availability for each of these regions.
We have 193 more ICU (critical care) beds and 81 more ventilators in use than we did one week ago, on June 30. General and ER beds have changed less — 59 more general beds in use and 47 more ER beds in use.
Significant increases in ICU beds in use were seen in over half of regions: B, C, D, E, F, I, J, L, and N. Region D saw big changes across all three categories of beds, so Metro Atlanta is definitely feeling the stress of these increased hospitalizations. Keep in mind, however, that these numbers are not strictly for COVID patients, and do not take into account surge capacity.
Chart below from GEMA Situation Report on 7/7