Hospitalizations Down, Cases Up
Hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 continue to drop in New Mexico. But despite the positive trends, the governor is still halting phase two of reopening.
According to KTSM statewide hospitalizations of novel coronavirus patients dropped to 122 people last week, compared to 211 people in May. According to KVIA the entire state currently has less hospitalizations than El Paso, Texas.
But last week Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the state will be delaying phase two of reopening as the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has been rising since early June. The Santa Fe New Mexican also reports that the disease transmission rate—based largely on identified positives—has risen to 1.12, which is above the target rate of 1.05.
However, a recent study by Stanford researchers that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found that tracking the number of new cases is only useful for analyzing COVID-19 testing efforts—not for tracking the actual spread of the virus. In “Measure What Matters: Counts of hospitalized patients are a better metric for health system capacity planning for a reopening,” the authors wrote that tracking average hospitalization rates is much more reliable than tracking the number of new cases, since case counts rely on testing efforts. “Without using local hospitalization rates and the age distribution of positive patients, current models are likely to overestimate the resource burden of COVID-19,” the authors wrote. “It is imperative that health systems start using these data to quantify effects of [Stay-In-Place orders] and aid reopening planning.”