Hospitals Are Full? Umm....No
In the seemingly endless contest for the most patently absurd lie of the Pandemic Panic Narrative, the fiction of the overwhelmed hospital always deserves at least honorable mention. Almost from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the media has reported time and again on full and “overwhelmed” hospitals, yet the data has never once supported that narrative.
Now the “full hospital” horror story is making a comeback, but with seasonal flu as the virus crisis du jour.
Yet when we examine the data, we find once again that the hospitals might not be quite as full or as overwhelmed as the media wants you to believe. In many communities, the hospitals are likely not full at all.
It is fitting that we begin a review of hospital data with the narrative from Minnesota. Minnesota, readers may recall, was one of the most egregious offenders regarding the fake news of “hospitals are full of patients”.
As Minnesota enters the cold and flu season, the media propaganda about “strained hospitals” has been appearing as if on cue.
Despite the signals that seasonal viruses may be easing, hospitals remain strained. Last week, we showed hospital bed use for non-ICU beds, for both adults and children. Those rates remain relatively the same this week for adults and have dropped a couple of percentage points for children. Pediatric ICU bed usage is also down a few percentage points. Last week, there were four pediatric ICU beds available in Minnesota. This week, that number has gone up to seven beds available.
Yet for hospitals that are presumably “strained”, statewide the level of staffed bed utilization in hospital is suprisingly low. Only three counties are reporting, as of December 2, 100% utilization of their hospital beds, and they are small counties, like Steel county, which has a total of 30 beds. A significant number of counties have less than 80% utilization of their hospital beds, which leaves the claim of a “strained” hospital system lacking essential evidentiary support.
Overall, Minnesota has consistently reported a significant number of available hospital beds throughout the year.
This is not what a “strained” hospital system looks like, on a statewide basis.
In Black Hawk County, Iowa, the “full hospital” narrative is again finding new life during cold and flu season.
Area hospital beds are full of people who are coughing, sneezing and running fevers.
Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are running rampant throughout the state and nation. And COVID is still lurking.
Yet none of the county’s three hospitals were even 80% full as of December 2.
Statewide, Iowa is reporting ample spare hospital bed capacity (of course!).
The hospital beds are decidedly not full in Black Hawk County, nor in Iowa as a whole.
In Sacremento, California, we see the same reporting, and the data shows the reporting to be the same fiction.
Hospitals across the country are hitting capacity as flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus cases rise into the millions.
In California as in the other states, there are ample beds statewide.
To be sure, Sacremento County does show a somewhat higher bed utilization, but there is an important caveat: several of the county’s hospitals, such as Mercy Hospital of Folsom, are almost always at a higher utilization level, maintaining a 95%+ utilization as a matter of routine.
Sacramento County’s hospitals are fuller than most because they are always fuller than most. Cold and flu season has not imposed any significant additional burden on the county’s hospital systems. News stories which intimate that flu, RSV, or COVID are filling up the county’s hospital beds are disingenuous at best, and deceitful at worst, as the reality is neither flu nor RSV is imposing an extraordinary burden on the county’s hospitals, and the data proves it.
The reality of Influenza Like Illness, just as with COVID-19, is that it can be mild or severe. Many patients merely need bed rest, fluids, and extra Vitamin D and Zinc to bolster the immune system. Some patients will need to convalesce in a hospital while their bodies fight off the disease.
This is normal. It is what has happened every year during cold and flu season literally for decades.
What is important to keep uppermost in one’s mind, however, is that the only hospital utilization stats that matter are the ones for the hospital(s) you would use in the event of serious illness. It has no bearing on the treatment of your particular situation if the hospitals in a neighboring state are empty or full.
However, it is quick and easy to find out the bed utilization status of just about any hospital and certainly any county. As is so often the case on the Internet, the data truly is out there, waiting to be retrieved.
As regards hospital capacities especially, never trust the narrative. Always verify by looking at the data.
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