Scientists have developed a new interactive map that shows how many coronavirus patients are in hospitals in every county of the US.
The COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project tells Americans how many people diagnosed with COVID-19 are filling up inpatient beds and how many are in ICUs.
Users can also access a list in which every county is ranked from worst to bed in terms of how close to capacity their hospital beds and ICU beds are.
Researchers from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota say the tool can help state leaders figure out which hospitals need resources the most urgently and help policy makers institute orders, such as mask mandates or occupancy limits, to control the spread of the virus in hard-hit areas.
The COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project was created by a team at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota to track how many coronavirus patients are filling up hospital beds and ICU beds in US counties
Users can also access individual states such as New York, which shows that COVID-19 patients are filling between 3.85% and 44.29% of hospital beds in individual counties
In California, coronavirus patients are filling between 6.17% and 36.38% of total inpatient hospital beds across counties
‘As thousands of COVID-19 patients seek hospital care across the United States, the site captures and tracks daily data on the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations – as reported by states’ Departments of Health – along with each states’ hospital bed and intensive care unit capacity,’ the team said in a statement.
‘The unique feature of the site is users’ ability to visualize and compare hospitalization activity between states.’
The map collects, tracks and reports COVID-19 hospitalizations every day from all counties in the 50 states, for which data is publicly available, and the District of Columbia.
Researchers say hospitalizations are a much more accurate metric than mortalities because deaths from COVID-19 are a lagging figure.
A list is included in which every county is ranked from worst to bed in terms of how full their hospital beds and ICU beds are (above)
‘[Deaths are] an important one to track,’ said Dr Soumya Sen, an associate professor of information and decision studies at the Carlson School of Management, in a statement.
‘But what really matters from a decision-making perspective is the current state. How many people are actually hospitalized? And what is the impact on the hospital system as a result?’
The map is updated every day when counties update their daily hospitalization counts so users can examine rates in real-time.
People can either look at the the percentage of total hospital beds or ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, both of which are calculated based on a seven-day rolling average.
To use the tool. users can hover their cursor over any county in the US, which are shaded from light pink, indicating a low percentage of patients, to dark pink, indicating a high percentage.
A text box will appear showing the percentage of total inpatient beds and ICU beds that are filled.
For example, in New York County, New York, the former epicenter of the pandemic, the map shows that 7.1 percent of total hospital beds have COVID-19 patients as do 10.5 percent of ICU beds.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles County, California, 17.5 percent of inpatient beds are occupied by coronavirus patients and 32.8 percent of ICU beds contain those fighting the disease.
Additionally, users can click into individual states using a drop-down menu at the top of the page if they are curious about just counties in their home state.
The tool also includes a list on the left side of the page of counties in order of how badly they’ve been hit.
Leading is Tioga, Pennsylvania – 220 miles north of Pittsburgh – in which 125.4 percent of all inpatient beds are filled with COVID-19 patients.
Rounding out the top five are Pawnee, Kansas; Deaf Smith, Texas; Campbell, Kentucky; and Arenac, Michigan; respectively.
In regards to the number of patients in ICU beds, Lincoln, the capital city of Nebraska, has the worst rate with 213.8 percent of ICU beds filled with coronavirus patients.
The other four cities with the worst percentages are Hale, Texas; Clay, Alabama; Muskegeon, Michigan; and Tioga, Pennsylvania; respectively.
‘Healthcare is an interdisciplinary field,’ said Dr Pinar Karaca Mandic, a professor of finance at the Carlson School of Management, in reference to why a business school created the project.
‘We identified a major data gap. This is important for policy making and for any decisions that the public health level tries to address.’