June 30, 2021

COVID-19 hospitalization, mortality rates before, after reopening US economy

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the department of economics, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, finds that state policies implemented in spring 2020 to protect hospital capacity and minimize deaths due to COVID-19 were associated with upward trends in hospitalizations and mortality after reopening.

The researchers examined data collected by the University of Minnesota COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project and daily COVID-19 state-level deaths tracked by the New York Times.

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On the day of reopening, the mean number of hospitalizations per 100,000 people was 17.69, and the mean number of daily new deaths per 100,000 people was 0.395.

Both outcomes trended upward after reopening. At 12 days after reopening, the hospitalization rate increased by 3.96 and the death rate increased by 0.10—neither of which was statistically significant.

When the analysis was stratified by state characteristics, hospitalization rates increased more in states with an active stay-at-home order in place at the time of reopening and in states with phased reopenings. In addition, states that reopened but maintained interventions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 had higher levels of hospitalization rates before reopening.

Data on the association of hospitalizations and mortality with state reopening policies may help policy makers balance public health protections with sustaining economic activity, the researchers concluded.


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