Abstract: Public health concerns are emerging based on reports of new SARS-CoV-2 variant strains purportedly triggering a rise in COVID-associated hospitalizations and ICU admissions, particularly in younger patients and the pediatric population. However, analyzing health records of COVID patients from the electronic health records (EHRs) of a multi-state US healthcare system, we find that there is actually a significant drop in COVID-associated hospitalization rates and ICU admission rates in March 2021 compared to February 2021. We further triangulate these EHR-derived insights with the official US government epidemiological data sets to show that during this same time period, there is no apparent nation-wide spike in pediatric hospitalizations. Our study motivates the need to develop a real-time system that integrates various COVID hospitalization and ICU monitoring efforts from the EHR databases of various health systems together with national epidemiological data sets. By infusing SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequencing data to flag potentially new or emergent viral strains, as well as county-level COVID vaccine rollout rates and shifts in SARS-CoV-2 PCR positivity rates into such a real-time monitoring system, public health policies and media reporting can be more effectively informed through the rigor of holistic biomedical data sciences.
, Andrew D. Badley,
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