State ends daily reports on hospital use as COVID cases spike

Rudi Keller
Columbia Daily Tribune
University of Missouri workers prepare a tent in March to be used as the MU Healthcare drive-through COVD-19 testing site.

One of the key indicators of how well Missouri is doing in its fight with the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials say, is how many people are in hospitals with the disease and how many ICU beds and ventilators are available to treat the sickest individuals.

Soon after the first case was reported in the state, the Missouri Hospital Association began offering a daily report of those statistics. After some adjustments, it also included a report on whether any hospitals were short of vital protective gear.

Anyone willing to compile the data from those reports could see that after an early rush of patients, the 7-day average number of people being treated as an inpatient was declining, from 814 on May 1 to 591 on Friday.

The data showed that, on average, about 77 percent of ventilators, or more than 2,000 machines, have been available for use during June. It also showed that, as hospitals return to more normal operations, the number of general care beds and ICU beds has been going down, from more than 25 percent to less than 12 percent of general care beds and from more than 27 percent of ICU beds open on May 1 to less than 15 percent.

Last week, touting it as an improvement, the Missouri Hospital Association and the Department of Health and Senior Services announced they would issue weekly reports — not daily — on regional hospital use.