In debates on reopening schools, I have seen the repeated claim that although cases are up, hospitalizations and deaths were down.
Hospitalizations and deaths are called lagging indicators because they do not rise, or fall, simultaneously with cases. People who require hospitalization may not be admitted to the hospital for days or weeks after developing symptoms. And deaths may come weeks after the onset of symptoms.
So when cases began to rise markedly starting mid-June, hospitalizations were not obviously trending upwards and deaths were at a low. Some thought that since the rise in cases was being driven by younger folks who have had lower hospitalization and death rates, we wouldn’t see much, if any, uptick in the number of hospitalizations and deaths.
But looking at graphs of new cases, new hospitalizations and new deaths in parallel, the data show new peaks in hospitalizations and deaths. Thankfully they are not proportional to the rise in the number of cases. And this likely is because the majority of cases are among people in lower age groups.
But hospitalizations are rising for all age groups. The number of kids ages 0-9 that are hospitalized is only 28 as of July 29, but that is double the number from June 26. And in the last 10 days, people ages 20-29 have been averaging nearly 3 new hospitalizations per day.
We are also seeing in hot spots around the country that younger people are passing Covid-19 to older, more vulnerable populations in their households. We need to stay vigilant and practice public health precautions.