By: Mark Glennon*

Route Fifty, a publication for state and local government administrators, has a good report on the collection of COVID-19 virus by the Center for Disease Control.

Both the State of Illinois and the federal government ignored that key data until recently, as we reported here on April 6:  It was until March 29 that Vice President Michael Pence sent a directive to hospitals to send in their daily inventories of open beds, ICU units, ventilators, occupancy, virus victims and the like. The State of Illinois did not do so until April 2.

Those numbers are critical because they tell us where capacity is truly tight, which states need the most help and which areas within states need attention. The numbers are also essential to making rational decisions about when and how stay-at-home rules should be loosened.

But as Route Fifty reports, the CDC has reported its numbers sloppily and sporadically. Illinois, too, remains deficient in reporting the numbers it collects. If you want them, you have to make a special request each day and then you only get grand totals. That tells us nothing about whether or where there are genuine problem areas within the state.

Governor JB Pritzker’s daily briefings have mentioned the key numbers only occasionally and selectively. He has only focused on problem areas, such as a few hospitals in north suburban Chicago which have been near capacity, and ICU inventories which initially appeared to be in short supply. The media has done the same.

However, as my colleagues here at Wirepoints detailed earlier this week, Illinois on the whole has far more capacity than it needs now and on the date cases are expected to peak.

The numbers initially reported to us for April 9 showed a decrease in total number of coronavirus patients in Illinois hospitals over the previous day, which was stated in the initial version of this article. Interestingly, however, on April 10 they sent a revision to those numbers showing that the total increased.

Projections and claims by politicians about needed hospital capacity and supply are turning out to have been far too pessimistic, both in Illinois and across the nation. That error undoubtedly is attributable in part to failure to collect current numbers, which we said before was inexcusable. Without real time updates on current capacity and utilization, projections almost certainly will be wrong.

This article was updated on April 10 to change the next-to-last paragraph as indicated.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

 

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Mark Felt
7 months ago

The sates and feds need to gather the same numbers every day. This should have been done from day one. Unfortunately the corona virus has turned into a political football being punted around the place in an attempt to gain political advantage or avoid political responsibility.

Mike
7 months ago

All hospitals reporting to the Federal government by a daily deadline would not be sufficient?

Real-time means as soon as the information is entered into a hospital computer system(s), it’s sent to the Federal Government.

That would be very expensive to implement nationwide.

An alternative would be a near real time system, but perhaps that cost / benefit is not practical.

It seems the Federal Government is learning on the fly the issues involved in the various hospitals getting the data to the CDC on a daily basis.

Mike
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

Doubt I’ll be the only person confused by the article as it stands. It also makes no sense for the State Government to waste hospital time by using a different form than the Federal Government. Seems like it would make more sense for the State to transition to the Federal form and add additional fields at the end of the form as desired. Wonder if some counties have their own form? Surprised to see a pdf and not a spreadsheet is being used, unless there is a spreadsheet option, and/or an option for some sort of digital data submission. Perhaps… Read more »

Mike
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

The original WP article was April 10th and it was updated on April 12th? Anyways this WP article still has “real time updates” instead of “daily updates” which is confusing for the reason discussed in the comments above. It might seem like a trivial point but in terms of Information Technology it’s a huge point. In looking at the April 9, 2020 Route 50 article again, it turns out from clicking on the link to the March 29, 2020 Pence letter http://www.routefifty.com/health-human-services/2020/04/we-still-dont-know-how-many-people-are-hospital-covid-19/164481 http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/text-letter-vice-president-hospital-administrators and from there the link to the CDC NHSN Covid-19 website http://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/acute-care-hospital/covid19/index.html. and from there the 2:43… Read more »

Mike
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

I was hoping you would change the article, not say sorry.

How many pages is the daily state COVID-19 hospitalization report, and can it be posted to a website?

Mike
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

Does one have to submit a FOIA request to obtain the daily stat?

Or is the daily stat just an email list to which anyone can subscribe?