Allegheny Health Network Doctor Says Rising Coronavirus Hospitalization Rates Are ‘Concerning’

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Across the country, more than two-thirds of states are seeing coronavirus hospitalizations increase.

“Where we are right now is concerning,” says Dr. Arvind Venkat of Allegheny Health Network emergency medicine. “We still have the ability to do better, to get this under much better control.”

In the United States, there are 59,000 cases a day on average — the most since the beginning of August.

“That’s not acceptable,” says Dr. Venkat. “We are going to see an increased burden of disease and hospitalizations, potentially deaths.”

The tally for all deaths this year is nearly 300,000 more than in a typical year. The official death toll from COVID-19 is 220,000.

“First is the pandemic itself. The other part is we saw a drastic reduction in the number of people who presented to the emergency department, including for conditions that we would not expect — for heart attacks and strokes and individuals with appendicitis,” Dr. Venkat said. “If they did not get acute medical care, they very well may have died.”

The age group of 25-to 44-year-olds has been hit hard. The excess death rate for this age group is up 27 percent compared to previous years.

“They are young, healthy and employed. And at baseline, they have a very low death rate,” Dr. Venkat said. “When you put in something like the COVID-19 pandemic, even though their death rate is less than those over the age of 70 or 75, that increase in death … is going to be reflected in these types of statistics.”

And in 37 states, hospitalizations are up. West Virginia has reached a record high in hospitalization averages.

“It’s transitioning with about a 60-day sort of interval between 20- and 30-year-olds and 60- and 70-year-olds. We see that transmission increasing because people may not be doing the mitigation measures — the masks, physical distancing — as much as they were before,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, VP for WVU Health Sciences.

Both doctors acknowledge there is a certain amount of pandemic fatigue as some people are tired of the restrictions. But doctors also note that masks, distance and hygiene by everyone will be key to reducing the spread.