MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two University of Minnesota research centers have launched the first website to better understand state-by-state hospitalization data due to COVID-19.

As thousands of COVID-19 patients seek hospital care across the United States, the site captures and tracks daily data on the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations — as reported by states’ Departments of Health — along with each states’ hospital bed and intensive care unit capacity.

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(credit: University of Minnesota)

The COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project currently reports data from 37 states and can be found on their website. The unique feature of the site is users’ ability to visualize and compare hospitalization activity between states.

“Whereas each state collects its own data, we wanted to make it easy to share and analyze data across states,” said Pinar Karaca-Mandic, associate professor at the Carlson School of Management and academic director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute. “This wasn’t possible until we launched this project, and this is the first time that a comprehensive national view of the data is available.”

The hospital utilization data is adjusted for each state’s population to allow for valid comparison. “The data can be used by public health officials for predictive analytics and hospital capacity planning to guide their decision-making,” said Soumya Sen, associate professor at the Carlson School of Management and research director of the Management Information Systems Research Center.

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As the U.S. anticipates a surging demand for hospital beds, ICU capacity and ventilators, it’s critical to have credible, real-time information at this time, according to the U of M researchers. The project began seeking data on March 26, and in less than two weeks it already offers new and valuable insights.

There are two categories in which users can see hospitalizations on the site: cumulatively, meaning total number of people admitted to the hospital since the state began tracking for COVID-19 patients, and currently, meaning the total number of COVID-19 patients currently in hospitals in a state.

As of April 3, the project has found in the 23 states reporting cumulative hospitalizations, the average hospitalization rate is 7.76 admissions per 100,000 adults, and 5.81 admissions per 100,000 people. Also, in the 13 states reporting current hospitalizations, the average hospitalization rate is 11.49 admissions per 100,000 adults.

“More analyses and insights would be possible with consistent data collection and reporting across all 50 states,” said Karaca-Mandic. “Therefore, we urge all states’ Departments of Health to begin and/or continue providing consistent standardized public reporting on four key metrics: cumulative COVID-19 hospitalizations, cumulative COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU, current COVID-19 patients hospitalized and current COVID-19 patients in the ICU.”

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As of April 5, 13 states and the District of Columbia are not providing hospitalization data. These include: Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.