The data that are no longer easily accessible are how many overall patients are in intensive care or in hospital right now, particularly for COVID-19. And Jensen thinks it’s a problem.
“If you want to find it, you’ll have to dig, add and subtract and look at multiple screenshots, and the ease with which you can see it previously is gone and we’re not going to restore it. This amazes me,” Jensen said.
He is not the only one interested.
Dr Pinar Karaca-Mandic, a University of Minnesota professor who tracks COVID-19 data across the country, said missing data is vital to understanding how the virus works.
“That data is very important to understanding where a given state is in its type of path and trajectory with respect to the pandemic, and whether we see changes and slow the growth of hospitalizations, for example. And we were getting all four metrics until recently. “Karaca-Mandic said.
He said obtaining that specific data helps track and predict mortality rates, based on current ICU and hospitalization numbers.
Karaca-Mandic said he contacted MDH for clarification on the removal of the data.
“I’m still waiting for an answer,” he said. “There has been a bit of back and forth, just to clarify some of the data definitions. I don’t know yet if this is a permanent or temporary change in reporting but, yes, I don’t have a clear answer at the moment.”
The state health department tried to explain the change in a statewide call on Friday.
“We made this change because the new hospital and admissions data are more meaningful to tell us the severity of the disease than to simply tell us how many people are in the hospital on any given day. When we see an increase in hospital admissions and ICUs, of it is usually after increases in cases and is an indicator that more people are experiencing COVID symptoms, ”said Kris Ehresmann, Director of Infectious Diseases at MDH.
Karaca-Mandic said he hopes MDH will return to provide information on how many people are in the hospital on any given day due to COVID-19.
“In itself, I think this relationship is very important as states and public health experts make decisions: when to open, how much to open, whether to close,” Karaca-Mandic said.