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.
AJ Venkatakrishnan, Colin Pawlowski, John C. O'Horo, Andrew D. Badley, John Halamka, Venky Soundararajan
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