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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Wuhan Virus and Hospitalizations

I have an undergraduate degree in physics and two graduate degrees in mathematics education. I can read data. That’s one of the reasons why all of the widespread fear mongering employed during what is better described as a “casedemic” has never worked on me. Of course, one doesn’t need degrees in math or science to see what is really going on with the Wuhan virus.

Back in the early-to-mid-spring of this year, heeding the rampant Wuhan virus fear mongering, all across the U.S., hospitals shut down almost all care and procedures that they could. This was done in preparation for what we were repeatedly told was going to be a significant Wuhan virus patient surge. Of course, such a patient surge never materialized. Thus, U.S. hospitals were left with a massive patient shortage.

In other words, the health care demands of the Wuhan virus were grossly overestimated. As I noted back in August, these demands were so “grossly overestimated” that billions of taxpayer dollars were unnecessarily spent—in other words, wasted—on “field hospitals” that were supposedly meant to help “handle” the pandemic as states fought to “flatten the curve.” Numerous hospitals that cost tens of millions of dollars each never treated a single patient. Others treated only a few dozen. 

Additionally, the hospital patient shortage was so massive that numerous U.S. hospitals suffered unprecedented, albeit self-inflicted, financial devastation. As far back as April, even CNN was reporting on the “financial ruin” facing some U.S. hospitals. On almost exactly the same day as the CNN report, with a piece entitled, “Sending Hospitals Into Bankruptcy,” The Wall Street Journal noted that the lockdowns were “doing great unintended harm to medical providers.”

The economic ruin experienced by American hospitals is much clearer now than it was in the spring when it was first being reported. About a month ago, the American Hospital Association (AHA) reported, “Since the start of the pandemic, hospitals and health systems have faced unprecedented financial pressures…And now, some hospitals are increasingly facing the threat of bankruptcy or closure as a result of these pressures.”

Noting that, “The financial pressures of COVID-19 are a considerable risk to the operation of some hospitals,” the AHA also reports:

  •  More than three dozen hospitals have entered bankruptcy this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
  • In a series of reports released in May and June, the AHA projected that hospital and health system losses were expected to be at least $323.1 billion through 2020.
  • Kaufman Hall projected that hospital margins could sink to -7% in the second half of 2020, an unsustainable level for America’s hospitals.
  • Moreover, Kaufman Hall projected that more than half of all hospitals will have negative margins during the fourth quarter of 2020.

I’ve always found this to be one of the most perplexing aspects of our Wuhan virus experience. If anyone should’ve known what was really on the horizon when it came to the Wuhan virus, it should’ve been those in the healthcare industry who had a financial stake in the matter.

Nevertheless, whether out of political pressure or misguided science, almost every hospital in the U.S. went along with the Wuhan virus fear mongering. And few, if any, are publicly admitting their mistakes. However—and tellingly—as the number of Wuhan virus cases rise across the U.S., and as hospital beds are filling up, we are not hearing U.S. hospitals tell the public to “stay home and stay safe,” nor or we seeing them turn away non-Wuhan virus patients in large numbers.

Also, though hospitals in America are seeing a (welcome) increase in patients and a corresponding reduction in available beds, contrary to what many of us are hearing, this is not exclusively due to an increase in the spread of the Wuhan virus, and we are not staring at a Wuhan virus emergency.

First of all, as this graphic reveals, overall Wuhan virus hospitalization rates are not that much different now than they were at “peaks” we experienced earlier in the year. What’s more, over the past few weeks, hospitalization rates for Wuhan virus patients have been on the decline. Kevin Roche at HealthySkeptic.com notes that “Case rates of hospitalization have not increased much,” and that “hospitalizations per case are actually continuing to trend down.”

On increased hospitalizations, Mr. Roche also notes:

[H]ospitals in the United States run at very high capacity almost all the time… People shouldn’t be alarmed by high capacity utilization. In addition, we all should recognize by now that we are keeping statistics for this epidemic in an unprecedented manner and that includes hospitalizations. There is a certain proportion of CV-19 admissions that are patients admitted for another reason who happen to test positive and people who actually acquire the infection in the hospital. [I’ve had this confirmed by additional hospital sources.] That is exacerbated by financial incentives for hospitals to find every possible reason to call an admission a CV-19 one. In recent weeks hospitalizations have also likely been inflated by the requirement that remdesivir be administered on an inpatient basis, by use of observation stays and other factors. Not surprisingly…average length of stay has dropped significantly, to five days. [Emphasis mine.]

In a separate post, Mr. Roche adds,

The other interesting thing to observe is when the peak in hospitalizations occurred, which you can see in the table [see the tables at the link] in the daily situation reports. This is another confirmatory signal, given the typical lag to hospitalization, that cases had turned around by November 10, before any additional government action. That action was and is completely unnecessary. And don’t buy the hysteria that hospital executives are all worried about being strained; they are loving all the CV-19 business they can get, for which they get paid 20% extra. [Emphasis mine.]

And don’t buy the media hype around hospitalizations. With a Trump-hating, big-government-loving drive-by media that was (and seemingly still is) fully invested in the lockdown narrative, the hospitalization hype has been going on for many months. In mid-July, just as schools were getting ready to open back up, much of the drive-by media was hyping Wuhan virus cases and hospitalizations. Vox, CNN, LA Times, as well as smaller, more localized media outlets all reported on an increase in hospitalized patients with the Wuhan virus. This happened again in August, September, and October, in a variety of states across the U.S.

In spite of this, hospitals were again never overwhelmed. This remains the case. Whether hospitalizations, case counts, or deaths, there’s nothing in the Wuhan virus numbers that should give America at large any reason for widespread alarm, nor is there any reason for new or continued lockdowns.

The lockdowns, the masks, the social distancing, and the like have done little to nothing to change the health outcomes for Americans who contract the Wuhan virus. Short of an effective vaccine—and it remains to be seen if we will ever have such—most of us were always going to have to deal with this virus like we have every other virus we’ve encountered. Again, it’s past time to end the lies and the fear mongering and open the country!

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2020, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America

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