The data that isn’t easily accessible anymore is how many overall patients are in the ICU or hospital right now, specifically for COVID-19. And Jensen thinks that’s a problem.
“If you want to find that, you’re going to have to dig, you’re going to have to add and subtract, and look at multiple screens, and the ease with which you can see it previously is gone and we’re not going to restore it. That just blows me away,” said Jensen.
He’s not the only one concerned.
Dr. Pinar Karaca-Mandic, who is a University of Minnesota professor tracking COVID-19 data around the country, said the missing data is vital to understanding the way the virus works.
“That data is very important in understanding where a given state is in its sort of path and trajectory in regard to the pandemic, and whether we see changes, and slowing down growth of hospitalizations, for example. And we were getting all four metrics until recently,” said Karaca-Mandic.
She said getting that specific data helps track and predict mortality rates, based on current ICU and hospitalization numbers.
Karaca-Mandic said she’s reached out to MDH for clarification on the removal of the data.
“I am still waiting for some response,” she said. “There has been some back and forth, just clarifying some of the data definitions. I still don’t know if this is a permanent or temporary shift in reporting but, yeah, I don’t have a clear answer currently.”
The state health department tried to explain the change on a statewide call Friday.
“We made this change because new hospital and admissions data are more meaningful for tell us severity of disease than just telling us how many people are in the hospital on a given day. When we see an uptick in hospital and ICU admissions, it’s usually after upticks in cases and is an indicator that more people are experiencing symptoms from COVID,” said Kris Ehresmann, Director of Infectious Diseases at MDH.
Karaca-Mandic said she hopes MDH will go back to providing information on how many people are in the hospital on a given day because of COVID-19.
“By itself, I think this reporting is very important as states and public health experts make decisions: when to open, how much to open, whether to close,” said Karaca-Mandic.