Red trend line going downward on a blue background surrounded by red COVID-19 virus illustrations

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Are Much Lower Than Anticipated

Coronavirus hospitalizations have again been making headlines across North Carolina. As JLF’s Jon Sanders writes in his recent research brief:

Last week, as North Carolina set a now-eclipsed record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen told NPR that “we are concerned” and raised the possibility of ordering people “back to stay-at-home” again.

However, the amount of hospitalizations we are seeing is far lower than anticipated, and even the best-case scenario expected by experts put us on track for an increase in June. Sanders writes:

Unless you are in possession of a memory, you forgot that the best-case scenario was that we’d have a small peak of hospitalizations not in April, not even in May, but in July.

In other words, an increase in hospitalizations in mid-June is a feature, not a flaw. What’s changed?

Sanders shares the projections of the COVID-19 outbreak from late March (see below).

Sanders explains:

To recap, here are the graph features — and where we are as of June 18:

  • Dark black line: Hospital bed capacity, “approximately 25,000”
  • Red peak: The “minimal action” projection: hospitals overwhelmed by an order of magnitude, approximately 225,000 hospitalizationsby the peak in late April
  • Orange peak: The “social distancing” projection: hospitals overwhelmed by a much smaller magnitude, approximately 90,000 hospitalizationsby the peak in mid-May
  • Blue peak: The “stay-at-home” projection: hospitals never overwhelmed, approximately 12,000 hospitalizationsby the peak in early July
  • June 18: Real-time data as of June 18, after recording the 10th record number of hospitalizations this month: 857 hospitalizations

Sanders plots a point on the graph of where June 18th hospitalizations are.

Sanders writes:

In short, while hospitalizations from COVID-19 are still increasing, they are nowhere even close to the levels we worried about in March…

The hospitalization numbers need to be given in context. They’re far lower than we feared, and they’re rising now because that was the desired outcome of flattening the curve.

By highlighting rising hospitalizations out of context, the Cooper administration is needlessly scaring people. Why?

Read the full brief here. Learn what a flattened curve means for businesses in North Carolina here.

Brenee Goforth / Marketing and Communications Associate

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