(The Center Square) – It’s unclear if Illinois will follow New York’s lead in providing better context to how COVID-19 is impacting hospital occupancy rates.
On Friday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul reported the statewide average is around 43% of those in the hospital that tested positive for COVID-19 being admitted for something else.
“They’re in there for other reasons,” Hochul said. “Think of all the other reasons people end up in the hospital. It’s an overdose, it’s a car accident, it’s a heart attack. So, I wanted to drill down into those numbers.”
While stating there’s still a pandemic, Hochul said that kind of context is important. In New York City, she said it’s about 50-50.
“So half of the hospitalizations in New York City are someone who needs to be there because of the severity of their COVID-situation and the other half are there for other reasons,” Hochul said.
Illinois state Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, said Illinois public health officials must follow suit.
“It’s so important and without factual, real data, it’s very difficult to put an actionable plan in place,” Niemerg told WMAY.
The Illinois Department of Public Health didn’t immediately indicate if Illinois would parse out the number of COVID-19 positives that are in a hospital because of COVID or with COVID. A spokesperson for the department said additional resources from hospitals to report that information could further stress an already stressed hospital staff.
“What’s important to look at is the record numbers of people in the hospitals, either due to COVID-19 or with COVID-19, and how to bring that number down,” said IDPH spokesperson Melaney Arnold.
Niemerg said such context should help inform public policy. He wants more emphasis on what kinds of therapies are available for those that are unvaccinated who get COVID-19 and those who are vaccinated and get a breakthrough COVID-19 positive.
For Hospital Sisters Health Systems in Illinois and Wisconsin, a spokesperson didn’t provide a breakdown, but said they test for COVID-19 for most admitted patients as a safety precaution.
“While some asymptomatic patients’ tests do come back positive, the majority have indicating symptoms,” said HSHS spokesperson Jennifer Snopko. “When you come to the hospital, it is important for health care workers to understand your complete picture of health so you can be properly treated.”
During a news conference Friday about how hospitals are managing increased hospitalizations, Dr. Marc Shelton with HSHS asked the public to not put off seeking emergency care. But, he said don’t go to the emergency room for a COVID-19 test.
“Really that should be done as an outpatient,” Shelton said. “Our emergency departments are so busy, they really don’t have time to take care of people who are not very symptomatic.”