Facility-level hospitalization data updated on schedule

In the interest of giving credit to the HHS where credit is due: the agency updated its new facility-level hospitalization dataset right on schedule this past Monday. Last week, I used this hospitalization dataset—along with the HHS’s state-level hospitalization data—to build several visualizations showing how COVID-19 has hit hospitals at the individual, county, and state levels. I also wrote a brief article on COVID-19 hospitalizations for Stacker, hosting visualizations and highlighting some major insights.

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COVID-19 data for your local hospital

On Monday, the HHS published a new hospitalization dataset including capacity, new admissions, and other COVID-19-related numbers—for over 4,000 individual facilities across America. This is, as I put it in a COVID Tracking Project blog post analyzing the dataset, a big deal. Project lead Alexis Madrigal called it “probably the single most important data release that we’ve seen from the Federal government.” This post explains why the release is so exciting and what researchers may do with it.

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HHS’s hospitalization data are good, actually

A new analysis, published this past Friday by the COVID Tracking Project, highlights how reliable the HHS dataset has become. The analysis compares HHS’s counts of hospitalized COVID-19 patients to the Project’s counts, compiled from states. This recent work benefits from HHS’s expanded metrics and more thorough documentation from both the federal agency and states, and it finds that the two datasets match well when adjusting for definitional differences.

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HHS changes may drive hospitalization reporting challenges

This past week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened up a new area of data reporting for hospitals around the country. In addition to their numbers of COVID-19 patients and supply needs, hospitals are now asked to report their numbers of influenza patients, including flu patients in the ICU and those diagnosed with both flu and COVID-19.

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CDC’s failure to resist political takeover

This past week, two outlets published major investigations of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The first story, by Science’s Charles Piller, focuses on White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and her role in the hospitalization data switch from the CDC to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The second story, by ProPublica’s James Bandler, Patricia Callahan, Sebastian Rotella, and Kristen Berg, provides a broader view of internal CDC dynamics and challenges since the start of the pandemic.

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New reporting requirements for nursing homes, hospitals, labs

Last Tuesday, CMS announced that nursing homes are required to test their staff and offer to test their residents when a COVID-19 outbreak occurs. Facilities that don’t test adequately can be fined. These new requirements follow the recent large-scale distribution of antigen tests to nursing homes, a move I’ve discussed in previous issues.

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