Idaho’s hospitals as a case study of decentralized healthcare

Last summer and fall, Idaho was completely overrun by the Delta variant. State leaders implemented crisis standards of care, a practice allowing hospitals to conserve their limited resources when they are becoming overwhelmed. All hospitals in Idaho were in crisis standards for weeks, with the northern Panhandle region remaining in this crisis mode for over 100 days.

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Why the CDC changed its masking guidance, and which metrics to follow right now

This past Friday, the CDC announced a major shift to its guidance for determining COVID-19 safety measures based on county-level community metrics. The new guidance is intended to replace COVID-19 thresholds that the agency developed last summer, during the Delta wave; here, the CDC is promoting a shift from using cases and test positivity for local decision-making to using metrics tied directly to the healthcare system.

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Hospitalization data lag behind the actual crisis

A record number of COVID-19 patients are now receiving care in U.S. hospitals, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Even so, reports from the doctors and other staff working in these hospitals—conveyed in the news and on social media—suggest that the HHS data don’t capture the current crisis. The federal data may be reported with delays and fail to capture the impact of staffing shortages, obscuring the fact that many regions and individual hospitals are currently operating at 100% capacity.

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One data researcher’s journey through South Carolina’s COVID-19 reporting

I invited Philip Nelson to contribute a post this week after reading his Tweets about his ongoing challenges in accessing his state’s hospitalization data. Basically, after Philip publicized a backend data service that enabled users to see daily COVID-19 patient numbers by individual South Carolina hospital, the state restricted this service’s use—essentially making the data impossible for outside researchers to analyze.

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