Report: Hospitalization rate for COVID-19 in Luzerne County relatively low

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COVID-19 may have hit troubling highs and rare lows in Luzerne County throughout the pandemic, but a new report that examines the rate of hospitalizations from the start of March 2020 through last December shows that our county, as a whole, closely mirrored the state’s rating. Data for the last six months of last year shows the county’s rate was relatively low compared to the state and neighboring counties.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council report includes the rate of hospitalizations per 10,000 population for three-month periods, for the state and all counties – although the data for some counties in some months is so low that the report does not provide any figures.

Luzerne County’s hospitalization rate started higher than the state’s rate from March to June 2020, hitting 16.3 versus 14.5 for the state. But it dropped dramatically over the next three months, to 2.2 per 10,000 compared to 5.4 for the state. This is the lowest rate obtained for Luzerne County since the start of the pandemic.

The local rate remained lower than the state rate until the January to March 2021 period, when Luzerne County had 27.9 hospitalizations per 10,000 people, compared to 26.3 statewide. But that was the last time the county edged out the state.

Over the past six months, the rate has climbed locally. It was 8.6 hospitalizations per 10,000 in the three months July to September this year, but hit a new high in PHC4 data for October to December last year, hitting 28, 4.

Despite the climb, Luzerne County’s rate over the past three months was lower than rates in five of the seven adjacent counties. Only Lackawanna and Monroe counties had lower rates, 22.9 and 27.3 respectively.

The report also provided statewide data:

• The hospital mortality rate was highest in April 2020 at 19.2%. Other peaks in mortality rates occurred in August 2020 (10.4%), January 2021 (13.8%), June 2021 (10.6%) and October 2021 (14.9%).

• In the last three months of 2021, 10.9% of hospitalized patients required mechanical ventilation and 14.6% died in hospital. The average length of stay was 8.2 days.

• Over the same three-month period, older residents — particularly those aged 55 and over — had higher hospitalization rates. Higher in-hospital mortality rates have also been observed in older patients, particularly those aged 65 and over.

Contact Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

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