CNN anchor Jake Tapper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the network's top medical correspondent, agreed Monday the method being used by the government to report COVID-19 hospitalizations is explicitly "misleading."
What is the background?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which manages COVID data reporting, does not distinguish between people hospitalized for COVID (meaning complications from the virus caused them to be hospitalized) or people hospitalized with COVID (meaning people who test positive for COVID after being admitted for reasons unrelated to the virus).
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was confronted Sunday on whether she could break down "for COVID" numbers versus "with COVID" numbers regarding reported COVID deaths in the United States. Unfortunately, she could not, but promised such data would be forthcoming.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) released data last week showing that 43% of COVID hospitalizations in the Empire State at the time were people hospitalized "with COVID." In New York City specifically, that number jumped to 51%, meaning more people were hospitalized for reasons not related to COVID but then tested positive for COVID after being admitted.
What did Tapper say?
Discussing the data from New York, Tapper pointed out the obvious: COVID hospitalizations are likely inflated, and are therefore "misleading," if the CDC includes those hospitalized "for COVID" and "with COVID" in the same data set.
"So, the hospitals are still stretched thin because of this, so I’m not trying to take away from that, but if 40% in some hospitals, 40% of the people with COVID don’t necessarily have problematic COVID — they’re there because they got into a car accident, they’re there because, you know, they bumped their head — and they’re being included as in the hospital with COVID, that number seems kind of misleading," Tapper observed.
Surprisingly, Gupta agreed and called for increased transparency from the government.
"Yeah, I agree, Jake. It surprises me that they have not been able to parse out that data more carefully," Gupta said. "There needs to be transparency about that, in terms of 'for or with COVID.'"
Gupta added that all states should follow New York's lead, especially considering public health officials there have learned how to properly delineate data.
"Yeah, we’re two years into this and we need the clearest picture possible," Tapper agreed. "If somebody’s in the hospital with a broken leg and they also have asymptomatic COVID, that should not count as being hospitalized with COVID, clearly."