Throughout the pandemic, a lot of numbers have been thrown around, including daily case numbers, the Covid-19 test positivity rate, the number of deaths.
Medical experts say the number really worth focusing on is the number of hospitalizations, and also the rate at which hospitalizations are occurring.
Yale New Haven Health is just one hospital group in Connecticut. One month ago, across the system's five hospitals, there were 16 Covid-19 patients who were in the hospital receiving treatment. Today, there are 79.
Dr. Richard Martinello, Medical Director for Infection Prevention at Yale New Haven Health, said the number of hospitalizations is important because it reflects how much of the virus is circulating in the system, but also because each patient takes resources.
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"Right now, we have adequate resources to allow ready access to our hospital in and other healthcare resources. But, for example, we’re seeing now in the state of Texas Arkansas and Florida where the hospital resources are overstretched because of the number of COVID patients that are caring for," he said.
That is not a place Connecticut hospitals want to be. Martinello said hospitalizations are such a key indicator because those figures help us tell where we stand in the pandemic and where we may be headed.
"A figure that we typically look at is how quickly these numbers double, whether that be the amount of Covid-19 in the community or the number of patients that we have hospitalized. Over the last two weeks or so, we've really seen a doubling of the number of patients we have hospitalized. And that rate of rise really gives us a great amount of concern for how much Covid is circulating in the community and, of course, that’s resulting in a higher number of patients that we need to care for in the hospital," he told NBC Connecticut.
Martinello said many of his new patients are younger people, which is concerning. He also said that at his facilities, there are two main things that are driving this increase in cases.
"One is, of course, the Delta variant. We know that that's much more readily spread from person to person. But also, even though Connecticut overall has done quite well with vaccination, we still have a large part of our population who has not yet been vaccinated but can be vaccinated. Those very vulnerable people are the ones who are in large part are getting sick and I know sometimes, unfortunately, are sick enough to be hospitalized."