By Zachary Stieber
Nearly half of the patients currently in New York hospitals with COVID-19 are not in the hospital because of COVID-19, the state said Friday.
Forty-three percent of the 11,548 hospitalized patients did not have COVID-19 listed as one of the reasons for admission, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said.
Hochul, a Democrat who is seeking a full term in office, told a press conference that she wanted to drill down on the hospitalization numbers to see how many patients are actually being treated for COVID-19 versus merely having the disease, which often causes no or mild symptoms.
Some of the patients test positive for COVID-19 “but they’re in there for other reasons,” Hochul said. “Think of all the other reasons people end up at a hospital; it’s an overdose, it’s a car accident, a heart attack.”
She said it was important to know the percentage of patients in each category as the number of hospitalizations rise.
“I just want to always be honest with New Yorkers about how bad this is. Yes, the sheer numbers of people infected are high, but I want to see whether or not the hospitalizations correlate with that. And I’m anticipating to see that at least a certain percentage overall are not related to being treated for COVID. But we’re still going to watch hospital capacity,” she said.
Most people admitted for non-COVID reasons who have COVID-19 are in New York City, with approximately half the hospitalizations there meeting that criteria, the data show. In some other areas, the percentage is much lower.
“About 50 percent are admitted with COVID and 50 percent admitted for COVID,” Dr. Steve Corwin, CEO of New York Presbyterian Hospital, which is in the city, told reporters. “Of the patients in the hospital, 50 percent are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and 50 percent have two doses of the vaccine,” he added.
Partially vaccinated means a person has received one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or has received two doses but two weeks have not elapsed since their second dose.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner who sits on Pfizer’s board, said the percentage was higher than he would have expected.
“Unclear why we’d see so much incidental infection. I’m hearing similar stats in [New Jersey] and [Connecticut] hospitals. Creates some concern [that COVID-19] could be spreading by contact with healthcare system itself,” he wrote on social media.
While many jurisdictions and hospitals do not make clear how many COVID-19 patients are being treated for other reasons, researchers found last year that approximately half of the hospitalizations showed just mild or no COVID-19 symptoms. Another study found four-in-10 children hospitalized with COVID-19 were asymptomatic, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told reporters Friday that the recent increase in pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations was due in part to non-COVID reasons.
“This is really a consistent problem we keep ignoring it as if it’s not an issue. It is an issue,” Dr. Scott Atlas, part of the White House COVID-19 response team during the Trump administration, told The Epoch Times previously.
Hochul told people who are only experiencing mild symptoms to stay home amid concerns of overburdening New York’s healthcare systems. She said that nearly 5,000 New Yorkers in the past 24 hours alone went to emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing.
“We have capacity. We have 2,000 locations where people can get tested. So, please do not go to an emergency room and tie up the resources, those individuals, so you can get a test. And don’t come in if you have very mild symptoms, either,” she said. “I know you’re anxious, I really understand this, but if you’re an adult that has very minor symptoms, you can handle a runny nose. You can handle your throat being a little bit sore, a little bit of cough. Just treat it as if you would have the flu. Follow the protocols, but please don’t overburden our emergency rooms.”