State’s virus-related hospitalizations keep dropping

DOVER — Delaware hit a COVID-19 milestone on July 30, when virus-related hospitalizations dropped by 23 compared to the day prior, all the way to a total of 46 — the lowest mark since the pandemic began in March.

That number has only gotten better.

Hospitalizations due to the virus have not risen above 47 in August. Delaware saw a new record low on Aug. 9 with 34 and there were 32 COVID-19 related hospitalizations as of Friday at 6 p.m., according to data provided by the Delaware Division of Public Health.
COVID-19 hospitalizations were at their highest point on April 27 with 337. They have trended downward since then, with the occasional brief rise before yet another drop.

On May 1, there were 300 people hospitalized in Delaware due to COVID-19. A month later on June 1 that number was almost cut in half at 157. It dropped to 67 on July 1 before August started with 43 people hospitalized.

The drop in hospitalizations coincides with Delaware’s effort to help halt the spread of COVID-19, which includes mandatory face coverings in public places, social-distancing enforcement and increased testing.

“We believe this is from the ongoing commitment from the community to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing and to perform diligent hand hygiene, which likely has led to the reduction of positive rates,” said Beebe Health Care public relations coordinator Ryan Marshall. “This in turn has led to the reduction in hospitalizations.”

“No definitive conclusions can be drawn, but it is generally considered that the totality of non-pharmaceutical interventions combined with the course of the pandemic contribute to low hospitalizations,” said DPH spokeswoman Jen Brestel.

Another reason, based on the data, is most rises in COVID-19 cases have occurred in younger age groups this summer. That age group is less vulnerable to the virus.

But the lower hospitalization rate doesn’t necessarily suggest Delaware is in the clear. There were five COVID-19 deaths last week and the seven-day rolling average of percentage of positive tests increased last week to 4.2%.

“As Division of Public Health data suggest in the previous few weeks, a younger demographic was testing positive, which likely correlates with less hospitalizations,” Mr. Marshall said. “These numbers do not suggest that the virus is eliminated or no longer a threat to Delaware. We still have to continue safe practices to continue down the path of recovery.”

The data also suggests the average length of a hospital stay due to COVID-19 is decreasing, Mr. Marshall.

“There are a few factors contributing to this decrease,” Mr. Marshall said. “We now have more information on the virus and access to medications that give patients more treatment options than back in March and April. Additionally, we are seeing patients present with milder symptoms and less risk factors to develop severe disease. With this, the overall numbers of those requiring hospitalizations are also decreasing.”

For data released on Friday, there were 38 hospitalizations and 31 new admissions. There were 20 new admissions the day prior — a combined two-day total of new admissions greater than the current hospitalizations.

That data comes from the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN), which reports both suspected and confirmed cases at any given time.

Regarding new admissions, the DHIN said a suspected case is usually someone with COVID-like symptoms, but who has not yet been tested. If a suspected case’s test results come back negative, then they are no longer considered suspect and they are subtracted from a previous day’s total new admissions, the DPH said.

According to the DHIN, the hospitals also identified that patients initially admitted may not be confirmed or suspected or have COVID-19 symptoms. These patients later test positive for COVID-19 or begin to present with COVID-19 like symptoms and this will lead to an increase in the confirmed admissions/suspected admissions.

DHIN also indicated, based on conversations with the hospitals, there are sometimes increases in “confirmed admissions” and “suspected admissions” because the hospital systems finalize coding as the patients get closer to discharge and in some cases after discharge. The cases are then later updated for accuracy.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

Have a question, tip, or resources about the coronavirus pandemic? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll do what we can to provide answers.