From infants to centenarians: New hospital data sheds more light on serious COVID-19 cases in Virginia

From infants to centenarians: New hospital data sheds more light on serious COVID-19 cases in Virginia
The data gives a more granular look at the state’s most serious cases of COVID-19 than many of the statistics offered by the Virginia Department of Health, which has been gradually expanding its own coronavirus dashboard since the start of the pandemic. (Source: Pixabay)

From January to June this year, Virginia’s oldest hospitalized COVID-19 patient was 103. But there were also 46 coronavirus hospitalizations among children younger than five out of a total of 22,508, according to new data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — including infants under the age of one.

With the exception of a few outliers, the data analysis — presented by the association during a Thursday webinar — highlights much of what’s already known about the virus, which disproportionately impacts older patients and those with underlying health conditions. Of the 8,728 coronavirus hospitalizations recorded by VHHA in the first two quarters of the year, the average age was 68, according to David Vaamonde, the organization’s vice president of data analytics.

A large percentage of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Virginia also had co-occurring conditions. High blood pressure was the most common — an accompanying condition in 67.5 percent of hospitalized cases — second to kidney disease in 49.2 percent of COVID hospitalizations and high cholesterol in just over 46 percent.

Diabetes and obesity were also significant co-occurring conditions, flagged in nearly 42.9 and 27.7 percent of hospitalized cases.

The data gives a more granular look at the state’s most serious cases of COVID-19 than many of the statistics offered by the Virginia Department of Health, which has been gradually expanding its own coronavirus dashboard since the start of the pandemic. While VDH provides broad age categories for hospitalizations and deaths, for example — grouped in decades starting from 0 to 9 and progressing to 80 and beyond — the department has often declined to provide more detailed age breakdowns, citing patient privacy concerns.

At times, that’s left unanswered questions. In September, VDH announced the first death of a child in Virginia but listed the patient’s age as between 10 and 19, leaving it unclear whether the death was a minor or not.

Much of the data presented Thursday was intended to paint a clearer picture of ongoing trends in Virginia, which could impact future planning if the state experiences another surge of the virus. Vaamonde said one important data point was how long COVID-19 patients stayed in the hospital — an average of nearly two weeks from January to June. The median stay for hospitalized COVID patients in Virginia was 10 days, a length more representative of a typical experience. But Vaamonde said a small number of patients remained in the hospital for more than 75 days.

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