Routine Hospital-based SARS-CoV-2 Testing Outperforms State-based Data in Predicting Clinical Burden

by   Len Covello, et al.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, government policy and healthcare implementation responses have been guided by reported positivity rates and counts of positive cases in the community. The selection bias of these data calls into question their validity as measures of the actual viral incidence in the community and as predictors of clinical burden. In the absence of any successful public or academic campaign for comprehensive or random testing, we have developed a proxy method for synthetic random sampling, based on viral RNA testing of patients who present for elective procedures within a hospital system. We present here an approach under multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) to collecting and analyzing data on viral exposure among patients in a hospital system and performing statistical adjustment that has been made publicly available to estimate true viral incidence and trends in the community. We apply our MRP method to track viral behavior in a mixed urban-suburban-rural setting in Indiana. This method can be easily implemented in a wide variety of hospital settings. Finally, we provide evidence that this model predicts the clinical burden of SARS-CoV-2 earlier and more accurately than currently accepted metrics.



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