COVID-19: Nearly half of virus hospitalizations in Massachusetts are for other issues


Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health on Thursday—for the first time—made a distinction between COVID-19 patients hospitalized with “primary” and “incidental” cases.

Boston 25, citing the newly released data, reported that 49% of the state’s 3,187 patients– hospitalized on Jan. 18–were there because of another matter and diagnosed with the virus once at the hospital.

Medical officials in the state made clear that they have no intention of diminishing the “incidental” cases– pointing out that they will still require special care–but they hope the numbers will better reflect the virus’ impact on the community

Dr. Shira Doron, a Tufts Medical Center’s epidemiologist, worked on the state’s new reporting system and told the station that the data indicate that the vaccines are doing their job. 

“At Tufts Medical Center, half of them are vaccinated, and you don’t want to be calling them a vaccine breakthrough hospitalization when they aren’t,” she said.

A resident enters the Tufts Medical Center Covid-19 vaccination and testing site in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. Photographer: Allison Dinner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A resident enters the Tufts Medical Center Covid-19 vaccination and testing site in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. Photographer: Allison Dinner/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Allison Dinner/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Boston 25 report said hospitals in the state measure primary COVID cases as those that require dexamethasone, the steroid treatment, which the majority of patients with severe coronavirus require.

Since the start of the outbreak, health officials have been accused of causing confusion by not distinguishing hospital cases. Since the start of the pandemic, the elderly and those with co-morbidities have been known to be at the greatest risk of serious illness. Some critics say politics were at play.

Dr. Shira Doron, a Tufts Medical Center’s epidemiologist, says the data show vaccines have been effective. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Dr. Shira Doron, a Tufts Medical Center’s epidemiologist, says the data show vaccines have been effective. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, recently spoke out against Dr. Anthony Fauci for only now editing his message when it comes to hospitalizations.

Cruz retweeted an interview Fauci had on MSNBC where he spoke about the troubling numbers of children in the hospital with the virus late last month. Fauci made it clear that there is a distinction between the number of children hospitalized with COVID as opposed to “because of COVID.”

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“And what we mean by that: If a child goes into the hospital, they automatically get tested for COVID and they get counted as a COVID-hospitalized individual, when, in fact, they may go in for a broken leg or appendicitis or something like that. So it’s over counting the number of children who are, quote, hospitalized with COVID as opposed to because of COVID,” Fauci said.

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Cruz posted, “Now Fauci says this? Is this because pandemic politics have changed for the Biden admin?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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