Texas Covid patient numbers may be inflated

Just the News:
Health officials in Texas are logging every single COVID-19-positive hospital patient in the state as a COVID-19 hospitalization, even if the patients themselves are admitted seeking treatment for something other than the coronavirus.

That policy may be serving to artificially inflate what ostensibly seems like a significant COVID-19 surge in the state. Texas has lately been the focal point of national anxiety over concerns that a "second wave" of the coronavirus has begun there after the state began reopening nearly two months ago.

COVID-19 hospitalizations there have been on a steady upward track for about the last two weeks, per the state's coronavirus dashboard, which on Thursday recorded about 4,400 coronavirus hospitalizations in the state. But at least part of that trend may be due to liberal coding policies by state officials.

Lindsey Rosales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, confirmed to Just the News this week that the state is categorizing every inpatient in the state with a positive COVID-19 test as a COVID-19 hospitalization.

"The number of hospitalized patients includes patients with a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 even if the person is admitted to the hospital for a different reason," Rosales said.

Asked if inpatients in the state are tested for COVID-19 whenever they arrive for treatment, Rosales said, "Hospitals set their own protocols for determining when and if to test patients for COVID-19."

She said the state does not keep track of the patients hospitalized with the coronavirus versus those hospitalized specifically because of it.

Texas Health Resources, one of the state's largest hospital systems, says on its website that its "patients [are] tested before most procedures." Elective surgeries and other medical procedures in Texas have gone up in recent weeks as the state has gradually re-opened following its lockdown.

Queries to multiple Texas hospital officials this week went unanswered. But leaders of several major hospitals in Houston this week urged the public to remain calm, suggesting that the extent of the outbreak has been overstated.

At a virtual press conference on Thursday, the chief executives of Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann Health System, St. Luke’s Health, and Texas Children’s hospitals stated that their hospitals are well-prepared to handle an even greater increase in patients than that which has emerged over the past few weeks.

The number of hospitalizations are "being misinterpreted," said Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom, "and, quite frankly, we’re concerned that there is a level of alarm in the community that is unwarranted right now."
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One problem caused by this is that many "elective" surgeries will be canceled or postponed for fear of not enough beds.  This is already happening in the Houston area.

There is also a lack of information about the patients who are being counted in the spike in numbers.  How many of them were at the mass gatherings for the Floyd funerals?  We do know that at least one of the Houston Texan players who attended the funeral was diagnosed with the virus.  I think a professional football player would not fall into the category of "vulnerable" in that it is unlikely that he would have preexisting conditions that make the disease fatal.  That may be true of others in this spike since there is no indication that the mortality rate has gone up with outbreaks.

In my own dealings with one of the major Houston hospitals where I underwent some testing in recent days, I saw no indication that the facility or the staff was overwhelmed.

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