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1/19/22 blog post

COVID data dashboard explained

This year, we began sharing our weekly COVID-related data. We have received many questions on if the hospitalizations reported are kids in the hospital BECAUSE of COVID or just any kid WITH COVID who is hospitalized. The number we are reporting is any child who is admitted who also tests positive for COVID. We know that this can cause confusion so we wanted to take a moment to explain why we are reporting this way.

Dayton Children’s has been testing every child admitted to the hospital for COVID since spring of 2020. This helps us know not only how to best care for the child but also what precautions we need to take to protect our staff and other families. For reference, prior to 2022, the highest number of positive hospitalized patients we had in a week was 26 (in September 2021). When comparing the numbers we’ve seen the past few weeks, we know that this is now the hardest hit the pediatric population has been since the pandemic has begun.

Why not just report patients with a primary diagnosis of COVID?

The majority of patients admitted to the hospital WITH COVID are there because COVID caused the symptoms they are having. 

However, in other cases it’s not so clear cut. For example, if a child has both pneumonia and COVID, their primary diagnosis may be pneumonia. However, COVID may be the reason they have pneumonia and still a significant part of their illness and treatment; therefore, we chose to include all cases of COVID, even if it's not the "primary" diagnosis. 

There could also be cases of a child admitted for a non-illness related reason, such as an injury or behavioral health concern, who shows no symptoms but returns a positive test upon admission. These children are still included in our numbers because it reveals that community transmission is high and this person could spread COVID without being aware of it. We also have to take the same precautions with a child in the situation so it's still a measure of the impact on staff and resources which is why including them in the overall number is important.

But again, the majority of patients admitted to the hospital WITH COVID are there because COVID caused the symptoms they are having. 

We debated breaking data down into those categories above and a few others, however when we do this we start to lose anonymity in the data and may end up revealing too much private patient information, especially if there is only one patient in a category.

What else can you tell us about the kids who are being admitted and testing positive?

Some are symptomatic, some are not. Some really struggle with their symptoms, some have mild symptoms but the COVID infection has greatly affected another illness they may have. Two-thirds of the patients admitted who tested positive have had an underlying condition. For many of our patients who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions, COVID can cause very serious complications.

Why are you sharing these numbers? What do you want the community to do with this information?

We do not share this data to scare you but we do want the community to know and understand that kids are being impacted by and infected by COVID. 

By providing our weekly numbers of any hospitalized patients with COVID, we are allowing the community to see what we see in terms of trends of high community spread so that they can make the best-informed decisions to protect their family.