Charting COVID-19 Hospitalizations by Statewide Beds

Many commenters on prior charts of statewide COVID-19 case counts have noted that unreliable testing makes such trends unreliable or difficult to interpret. Tracking deaths is better in this regard, but perhaps the most direct measure of the pandemic’s strain on state healthcare resources is the number of patients requiring hospitalization — and that data is finally available!

To hone in on the relative impact in each state, the chart above tracks the total hospitalizations thus far compared to the number of staffed hospital beds in each state, as reported by the CDC (note: this is a cumulative count of hospitalizations, not how many patients are in the hospital now). Tallies of currently hospitalized patients, along with totals requiring intensive care or ventilators, would be wildly useful but are currently only available in a handful of states.

In raw numbers, it would be difficult to overstate the wave of hospitalizations that is occurring in New York. On every day in the past week, the state has hospitalized more patients than any other state had total at that time. At the current rate, they could fill the 1,000-bed hospital ship sent by the federal government in under10 hours— nearly 2,500 patients were hospitalized on the last day reported. Louisiana comes next, with a less dramatic trajectory. Note, however, that New Jersey and Michigan are missing. Each has had more total deaths than Louisiana; they are certainly in crisis, but are not yet publishing hospitalization information.

Four states — Colorado, Maryland, South Carolina, and Vermont — are among the highest states on the chart, but much less prominent in the news than many others. None are in the top ten states in terms of case counts or deaths — not surprising in Vermont’s case due to its tiny population. It is possible these states are simply using a lower threshold for hospitalization than other states, or are using a different methodology for reporting. If not, they bear watching.

If you’d like to see states’ total hospitalization count, or a population-adjusted figure, I’ve included the information below as of 4/2 for all available states.

Table: Hospitalizations for COVID-19, by State

Sources: cdc.gov, covidtracking.com

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