Dr. Mendoza: Higher COVID-19 hospitalization rates a result of increased testing, location of testing


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza says the increase in local COVID-19 hospitalizations is related to the recent increase in testing, and where that testing is happening.

Dr. Mendoza held a media briefing Tuesday to discuss the data on recent hospitalization trends regarding the coronavirus. Over the past week, Monroe County has seen a consistent rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, setting single-day highs for consecutive 10 consecutive days:

Data courtesy Monroe County Department of Public Health

While COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising locally, ICU admissions have remained flat, or even declined on some days.

“Hospitalizations are going up, but the good news is people who are critically ill, or in the ICU, is flat or going down on some days,” Dr. Mendoza said.

Dr. Mendoza said one of the reasons for increased hospitalizations locally is due to more testing, and where that testing is happening.

“The number of tests we’ve performed as a county has increased dramatically since the beginning of May,” Dr. Mendoza said.

Additionally, the public health commissioner says the county is performing more COVID-19 tests in hospitals and nursing homes.

“Many of the positive tests are from people who were already in the hospital,” Dr. Mendoza said.

Hospitalization capacity rates are included as a criteria benchmark for regions to meet under the New York state’s reopening guidelines, but Dr. Mendoza says he doesn’t think that those who test positive while already in a hospital will impact the capacity rates.

“If these people who were already in a hospital test positive, it shouldn’t have an impact on hospital capacity, because they’re already using the bed,” Dr. Mendoza said.

The health commissioner did note that the daily updates his county sends out are not consistent with real time results, as it takes time for tests to be sent out, conducted by labs, then for results to get sent back.

All-in-all, Dr. Mendoza says it’s important to remain vigilant in our community’s fight against this virus.

“I think we’re on the right track, but we need to be vigilant,” Dr. Mendoza said. “We see signs that are reassuring everyday, and signs that are concerning every day. It’s oversimplifying to just say right or wrong.”

Part of that vigilance includes social distancing, or as Dr. Mendoza prefers, “physical distancing.” He says it’s important to stay six feet away from people, but he insists people should still be connecting, virtually, to maintain some stability and good mental health.

“Make no mistake, mental health is the other side of the coin when we think of physical health, so we’re definitely paying attention to that,” Dr. Mendoza said.

At this time, Dr. Mendoza says he estimates that 2$-3$ of residents in Monroe County is infected with the virus. With a population of approximately 740,000, that would be somewhere between 14,000 and 22,000 Monroe County residents would have COVID-19, and at this time, only 2,268 confirmed cases have been identified.

Click the video player above to watch the full briefing with Dr. Mendoza.

Currently, there have been 174 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Monroe County, along with the 2,268 confirmed cases.

The Finger Lakes region began phase one of reopening on Friday. In an update on Monday, Special Advisor to coordinate reopening the region, Bob Duffy, noted a recent local increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Monroe County, and says that if that troubling trend continues, it could delay our region from advancing past phase one of reopening.

“There are businesses that want to reopen, want to get to phase 2, 3, 4,” Duffy said. “If these rates keep going up, it’s going to be a very slow process getting there. It’s no time to forget the rules, step back, or purposefully try to circumvent the rules or guidelines.”

MORE | COVID-19 county by county: Keeping track of local cases throughout the region

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