NJHA: The rise and fall of New Jersey’s COVID-19 hospitalizations

The New Jersey Hospital Association‘s Center for Health Analytics, Research and Transformation has recently released an analysis of the trajectory of COVID-19 in the state, focusing particularly on the “rise and fall” of hospital capacity throughout the surge and the downward slope after the state enforced strict social distancing policies.

The CHART report said the peak day of activity in New Jersey was April 14.

On that day (representing a statewide average):

  • 8,084 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19;
  • 82% of intensive care beds were filled;
  • 62% or 1,915 out of 3,103 ventilators were in use;

NJHA said some facilities in North Jersey were close to 100% capacity in mid-April. Hackensack University Medical Center was the state’s busiest hospital treating COVID patients on April 14, with 470 total cases. Others in the Top 5 included St. Joseph’s Medical Center (351), Saint Barnabas Medical Center (310), Morristown Medical Center (309) and Overlook Medical Center (304). Two weeks prior on March 31, there were 5,269 hospitalizations. Two weeks after, the number jumped by more than 50%.

Since the peak, NJHA said there’s been a steady decline in the case load, bringing the state hospitals close to pre-COVID capacity levels and stability. Less than a week ago (May 20), there were 3,209 patients hospitalized with the virus, a 60% decrease from the peak. The first COVID-19 case in New Jersey was reported on March 4.

“One of the greatest fears – that COVID cases would exceed our available beds and ventilators – never materialized, thanks to hospitals’ nimbleness in expanding capacity in our health care system,” NJHA CEO and President Cathy Bennett said. “It’s heartening to see the decline of COVID patients in our hospitals. We remain ever vigilant to not only protect New Jerseyans today, but also to build up our ability to respond to any signs of renewed virus activity.”

Other data through May 20 shows:

  • 15,339 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, representing 1.7% of the state’s population. Nationally, 1.5 million have been infected or 0.45% of the population;
  • 10,747 residents have died from COVID-19 related complications, representing 7.1% of the state’s total COVID cases. Nationally, 90,000 have died, representing a death rate of just over 6%.

“New Jersey is clearly a hotspot for infections, but on average the populations is no more prone to mortality than the country as a whole,” the analysis said.

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