Most Hoosiers with COVID-19 never go to the hospital

Most Hoosiers who have tested positive for COVID-19 have never visited an emergency room or been admitted to a hospital, and apparently are recovering at home, state health officials said Friday.

Dr. Kris Box, the state health commissioner, provided the first in-depth look at statewide hospitalizations caused by the disease during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s daily press briefing.

More than 10,000 Hoosiers have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, and Box said researchers have been able to analyze 7,955 of those cases to see how many people were hospitalized.

Of the number of patients studied, about 35%, or 2,763 patients, visited an emergency room, and 2,026 people, or 26% were admitted to a hospital.

“That means there’s an additional almost 6,000 individuals out there that were positive for COVID-19 that never hit our hospital system and we assumed they recovered—or are recovering—at home,” Box said.

She did not draw any conclusions about whether the disease, spread by a novel coronavirus, is mild enough in most cases to avoid a hospital visit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that most people who get infected experience only mild symptoms, such as a fever and a sore throat.

But the disease can strike other people hard, especially the elderly or those with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes. More than 33,000 Americans have died so far from COVID-19, the CDC said.

Of the hospitalized patients, about 25% of them, or 501 in all, were so ill they had to be admitted to an intensive care unit, a specialized area of the hospital set up with lifesaving equipment and medicines.

Box said of those who were admitted to an ICU, 68% have since been discharges, 20% are still hospitalized and 12% have died.

The average length of stay in the hospital was 9.4 days—but it was a slightly longer 10.4 days for those were in the ICU.

The analysis studied data pulled from the Indiana Patient Care Collaborative, a program of the Indiana Health Information Exchange, a network set up more than two decades ago that connects more than 100 hospitals around the state, allowing health officials to share and monitor information on hospital admissions, diagnoses, conditions, treatments and discharges.

Officials from the exchange, the Regenstrief Institute, the Family and Social Services Administration and the state health department conducted the analysis.

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