DAVE ROSS

Ross: Are the numbers of hospitalized COVID patients exaggerated?

Sep 14, 2021, 5:48 AM | Updated: 9:20 am
COVID seattle, patients...
In this April 5, 2020, file photo rows of patient beds are shown at a military field hospital at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle in April. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

An article in the current issue of the Atlantic is questioning probably the scariest numbers of the COVID pandemic – the number of COVID patients being hospitalized.

Right now, in Washington state, that figure is at about 6,500 COVID-like hospitalizations for the last full week on record – down from a few days ago, but significantly higher than all the previous peaks. Which looks pretty scary.

But is it?

Because we don’t know any of the details of these cases – just the raw numbers.

So a group of experts decided to find out how many of these hospitalizations are ACTUALLY due to COVID.

The article in the Atlantic, written by David Zweig, is based on a new study of 50,000 admissions at VA hospitals. The researchers chose the VA because every patient gets a COVID test, so we know for sure who had it.

The VA data also made it possible to sort these patients according to how sick they were by tracking oxygen levels in the blood – so they had an objective measure of who was seriously ill, and who wasn’t.

And here’s what they found.

The numbers showed that last year, in 2020, before the vaccine and before Delta, 36% of the patients with COVID were only mildly sick or had no COVID symptoms.

Researchers then looked at the numbers from THIS year – January through June – and found that the percentage of non-serious COVID was even higher – close to 50%.

That would mean that about half of the patients whose cases ended up as part of the COVID statistics either weren’t very sick or were admitted for a reason not primarily due to COVID.

The dashboard numbers were lumping together the mild cases with the deadly cases, which would tend to overstate the danger.

So there’s some fuel there for the skeptics. But the same study also showed much better outcomes for vaccinated as opposed to unvaccinated patients, which would provide ammo for vaccine fans. Because while vaccinated people may find themselves ENTERING the hospital alongside the un-vaccinated, the study confirms that they are significantly more likely to LEAVE the hospital alive and healthy.

And that’s the other thing the dashboard numbers don’t show – that since the vaccine came along, the number of severe hospitalizations has dropped dramatically.

I’m not sure which side of the debate stands to score the most points here, but to discover that half of the people being hospitalized for COVID – at least in VA hospitals – have mild symptoms or none at all means a lot more people get to go home to their families. And that … is a good thing.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

teacher of the year, Jerad Koepp...
MyNorthwest Staff

Meet the 2022 Washington State Teacher of the Year: Jerad Koepp

Jerad Koepp is Washington State Teacher of the Year for 2022. He is a Native American specialist for the North Thurston County Public Schools.
2 days ago
airport, freedom...
Dave Ross

Ross: You have the freedom to fly, or to stay home

When you enter an airport, you give up your freedom. Everybody knows this. If you don’t like it, exercise your freedom to stay home.
3 days ago
debt...
Dave Ross

Ross: The wealthiest nation in history is again toying with the idea of not paying its bills

The debt drama is going down to the wire. The warnings are flying, the air is thick with blame – but I remind myself that this is how it’s supposed to work.
4 days ago
Trump...
Dave Ross

Ross: Now we know what they were planning

On Monday, it was revealed why former President Donald Trump had every reason to believe he would win the 2020 election.
5 days ago
trump, secret service...
KIRO Radio staff

Fahrenthold: Taxpayers paid $1.7 million to protect Trump’s four kids, three officials

There's quite a bit of taxpayer money that went to the Secret Service to protect not just the president, but a bunch of other people as well.
6 days ago
Texas abortion...
Dave Ross

Ross: You get a lawsuit, and you get a lawsuit

The way the Texas law is written, Dr. Braid could be sued hundreds of times, and sued successfully, since he’s basically confessed to providing an abortion.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
...
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Ross: Are the numbers of hospitalized COVID patients exaggerated?