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Many In Hospital With COVID-19 Went There For Other Reason

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The current surge in COVID-19 positive patients in North Texas hospitals is different according to some doctors and industry professionals, who say a large percentage of people included in that number were admitted to receive care for something other than the virus.

Virus-positive patients in hospitals have nearly tripled in the region in the last two weeks.

They are the highest numbers since late September.

About 30% of the people included in those counts however were admitted for something else, according to Dr. Joseph Chang, the chief medical officer at Parkland Health in Dallas.

In Fort Worth, Dr. Jo Anna Leuck, with the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, estimated she was seeing a similar percentage.

A patient might break an ankle she said, go to the hospital, and while there be tested and find out they also have the virus.

"It is so easy to transmit, that there are lots of patients that have it," she said. "But thanks to the vaccine are experiencing either no symptoms or very mild symptoms, so that naturally leads to people walking around who are going to have a positive test."

The number probably mirrors the percentage of people testing positive in the community she said, which Tarrant County reports as 37%.

Several health systems contacted this week by CBS 11 said they didn't have data on the breakdown.

Stephen Love with the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council relayed that in his talks with hospitals, anecdotally, it was a frequent trend.

Nationally, reports from hospital systems in California and Florida have put numbers at 50% or higher.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President, said last week in an interview it was leading to over-counting the number of pediatric hospitalizations, because a child might go to a hospital for a broken leg, but test positive while they're there.

Dr. Chang cautioned COVID-19 could still be impacting patients even if they were not aware they had it. He gave the example of a someone who came in for a heart attack, and the virus could have contributed to the incident.

Dr. Leuck mentioned that an asthma attack may be brought on in the same way.

Covid hospitalization numbers that would have caused alarm during the spread of previous variants though, or before vaccine availability, are not the same though this time she said.

"It's a different time," Dr. Leuck said. "We have tools, the variant is a more mild variant, and panic is not the right answer."

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