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Tags: hospitalization | flatten | curve | hospitals

States Using Wrong Metric for Reopenings

States Using Wrong Metric for Reopenings

Steve Levy By Wednesday, 06 May 2020 09:07 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

It's the ultimate Catch 22.

We're being told by epidemiologists that we should not reopen our economy until new reported cases of coronavirus infections decline.

Simultaneously, we're rapidly increasing testing nationally, which inevitably will significantly spike the number of positives registered.

Using that benchmark, we won’t be able to open up for months in some places where increased testing leads to more positive recordings.governor of Mississippi put on hold his plans to reopen his state economy because there was an increase in reported positives. 

White House guidelines suggest reopening should be postponed until there is evidence of "Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period." According to Vox.com, the number of new tests on Thursday, April 23, came in at more than 191,000, based on the Covid Tracking Project. That was up from the average in the previous week, when there were about 147,000 new tests a day.

Since the start of April, America has averaged about 156,000 new tests a day. Back in mid-March when states were beginning their shutdowns, fewer than 20,000 daily tests were being administered.
As noted in an April 16 article in the Atlantic, the U.S. did almost 25 times as many tests on April 15 as on March 15, and both the daily positive rate and the overall positive rate went up in that month.The authors logically concluded, "The growth in the number of new cases per day, and the growth in the number of new tests per day, are very tightly correlated.
This tight correlation suggests that if the United States were testing more people, we would probably still be seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases."
As of April 29, 2020, there have been 299,691 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of New York as reported by The COVID Tracking Project, where there were only six positive cases reported on March 4, 2020.
Though the number of daily reported positive tests have declined in New York over the past week or two, as can be seen in the chart below posted in the Gothamist, the positive rate fluctuates day to day in close correlation of the number of tests performed.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations have continued to decrease. That’s good news given the fact the whole premise of the shutdown was to bend the curve to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.
While it was once thought we’d have patients dying due to a lack of ventilators, the state now has a huge surplus of the machines and is even lending them to other states. We’ve flattened the curve to such a degree that many health facilities are actually laying off personnel.
More positive test results do not, in and of themselves, mean there are more people contracting the virus. There were many individuals who had already contracted it, but simply weren’t counted before, due to the fact there hadn’t been enough tests to identify them.
And many, if not most of these folks, will never need hospitalization.
As of mid April, only 2.5 of every 100,00 people ages 18-49 eventually become hospitalized due to Covid-19.

Some would otherwise never even have known they had it in the first place. There is a problem with those not knowing they are carriers possibly infecting others, but it’s also true that the concept of building a herd immunity has been enhanced by their now possessing antibodies.

And, of course, we must remain cognizant that there is a lag between contracting the virus and eventually needing hospitalization. But, we now know that very few people who get Covid actually wind up in a health facility, with less than one percent succumbing to the disease.

So, if our initial goal was to flatten the curve to avoid overwhelming our hospitals, and we seem to have accomplished that, why shouldn’t we gradually restart our economy while carefully monitoring if we approach the point of hospitalization that may cause concern for us to provide careIf we ever approach that point, we could readjust.

That’s why it’s the death rate, and more particularly, the hospitalization rate, that should dictate our plans to reopen, rather than the rate of infections reported.

Steve Levy, former New York state assemblyman, Suffolk County executive, and candidate for governor, is now a distinguished political pundit. Levy's commentary has been published in such media outlets as Washington Times, Washington Examiner, New York Post, Albany Times, Long Island Business News, and City & State Magazine. He hosted "The Steve Levy Radio Show" on Long Island News Radio, and is a frequent guest on high profile television and radio outlets. Few on the political scene possess Levy's diverse background. He's been both a legislator and executive, and served on both the state and local levels — as both a Democrat and Republican. Levy published "Bias in the Media," an analysis of his own experience, after switching parties, with the media's leftward slant. Levy is currently Executive Director of the Center for Cost Effective Government, a fiscally conservative think tank. He is also President of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. To learn more about his past work and upcoming appearances, visit www.stevelevy.info. Read Steve Levy's Reports — More Here.

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It’s the death rate, and more particularly, the hospitalization rate, that should dictate our plans to reopen, rather than the rate of infections reported.
hospitalization, flatten, curve, hospitals
Wednesday, 06 May 2020 09:07 AM
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