Florida COVID-19 Hospital Admissions may Have Reached a Peak, or Maybe Not

There is still no widely accepted theory that explains why a wave triggered by a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 should have only a single peak.

We relied on data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to track combined adult and pediatric hospital admissions for confirmed COVID-19 among all Florida hospitals. The horizontal time axis is measured in days from the estimated first appearance of each variant. See Technical Notes below for details.

We further update our ongoing comparison of the hospitalization curves for the Delta and Omicron waves in Florida. While statewide daily hospital admissions accelerated much more rapidly during the current Omicron wave, the Omicron curve appears to have reached a peak and may be trending downward.

Admissions appear to have peaked at about 2,200 on January 12 , just below the high point seen during this past summer’s Delta wave.

We stress that this is purely an empirical observation. There is no widely accepted theory that explains why a wave of infections triggered by the emergence of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 should have only a single peak.

We will continue monitor trends in Florida COVID-19 hospital admissions.

Technical Notes

As we’ve repeatedly noted, we do not have data on the variant underlying each hospital admission. Still, according to the most recent CDC report on state-specific variant proportions, 99.7% of recent SARS-CoV-2 samples sequenced in the U.S. region covering Florida were attributable to the Omicron variant.

We have estimated the initial appearance of the Delta variant as June 10, 2021. There are reports that the variant was in fact detected by late May. If we translated the time axis for Delta to the right, however, the Omicron-related hospitalization curve would be running even further ahead of its predecessor.

The calculations in the figure are derived from COVID-19 Reported Patient Impact and Hospital Capacity by State Timeseries, maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The daily counts represent the daily sums of two variables for all Florida hospitals combined:

  • previous_day_admission_adult_covid_confirmed: Number of patients who were admitted to an adult inpatient bed on the previous calendar day who had confirmed COVID-19 at the time of admission in this state
  • previous_day_admission_pediatric_covid_confirmed: Number of pediatric patients who were admitted to an inpatient bed, including NICU, PICU, newborn, and nursery, on the previous calendar day who had confirmed COVID-19 at the time of admission in this state

Some commentators have expressed a general concern that COVID-19 hospitalization counts include patients admitted for unrelated reasons who incidentally tested positive. We are now preparing an article on this important issue.

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