Issues & Insights
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Miguel Pena

Another COVID ‘Fact’ Turns Out To Be A Wild Exaggeration

We keep hearing how hospitals are being overrun with COVID patients because of those dastardly unvaccinated. This has certainly made the Delta variant look highly dangerous, helped keep people in a state of panic, and ginned up support for draconian vaccine mandates. But is it as bad as we’re being told?

Two studies suggest that all the talk of mass hospitalization from the COVID outbreak is a huge exaggeration. Researchers found that a substantial number of those admitted to hospitals – adults and children – either have minor symptoms or were checked in for something else but happened to test positive for COVID after being admitted.

Of course, that’s not the message the public is getting. Instead, we are being treated daily to headlines such as:

“Child Covid-19 hospitalizations soar, filling pediatric wings, data show”

“COVID-19 Hospitals: overrun with COVID patients”

“As Idaho hospitals ration care, doctors fear a COVID peak may still be weeks away”

When the death rate from COVID plunged, the media started focusing on the number of people hospitalized as the “better” indicator of how serious the current COVID outbreak is.

But that measure is grossly inflated because hospitals test every patient and are required to report any positive result, even if the patient has no symptoms. The result, as a surprisingly honest article in the Atlantic points out, is that “the overall tallies of COVID hospitalizations, made available on various state and federal dashboards and widely reported on by the media, do not differentiate based on severity of illness.”

The article points to new a new study by researchers the VA Boston Healthcare System and Tufts University, which tried to understand the severity of these hospital visits by looking at electronic records data from Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country. That way they could see which COVID patients needed supplemental oxygen or whose blood oxygen level went below 94%, which are indicators of a severe COVID case.

They found that last year, as COVID was emerging and before there were any vaccines, nearly two-thirds of those who tested positive in hospitals for COVID had severe symptoms. But this year, only about half did. The rest either had been admitted for other reasons or had a mild case of the disease.

And that’s not just because more of those admitted this year have been vaccinated. The researchers found that unvaccinated patients also had milder symptoms overall this year than last.

One of the study’s authors said this “may be explained by the fact that unvaccinated patients in the vaccine era tend to be a younger cohort who are less vulnerable to COVID and may be more likely to have been infected in the past.”

This isn’t the first study to conclude that hospitalization numbers were off the mark. Two research papers published in May concluded that COVID hospitalization rates for children were inflated by at least 40% for the same reason – many had mild cases or had been admitted to the hospital for unrelated health problems.

Yes, some hospitals are strained by COVID patients. But even that could be the result of the panic being spread. If people with sniffles are rushing to the hospital to get tested for COVID, then admitted for observation, then of course some hospitals will be overrun. (One doctor was recently seen on a leaked Zoom conference call talking to a North Carolina hospital’s director of marketing about exaggerating COVID hospital cases to make it “a little bit more scary for the public.”)

Once again, any good news about COVID is getting buried, even as the disease becomes less and less of a threat.

Liberal politicians and the mainstream press could change this, if they’d be more measured in their statements and more honest about the real risks COVID poses. But for their own selfish reasons, neither group wants to do so.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

We Could Use Your Help

Issues & Insights was founded by seasoned journalists of the IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day -- without fear or favor.

We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe in a free press, and because we aren't afraid to tell the truth, even if it means being targeted by the left. Revenue from ads on the site help, but your support will truly make a difference in keeping our mission going. If you like what you see, feel free to visit our Donations Page by clicking here. And be sure to tell your friends!

You can also subscribe to I&I: It's free!

Just enter your email address below to get started.


I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Just listened to a recorded conversation where Hospital officials are being told to list anyone in hospital for any reason who had or has tested positive, as a Covid patient regardless of what they were admitted for. Samples: Heart attack, cancer, diabetes, injury from accident, etc…

  • pretty simple, hospitals are PURPOSELY overloading w/ANYONE who tests positive regardless of why the patient is there because they get more $$cabbage$$. they are bilking the american public by applying for “covid cash” where it is obviously not warranted. very similar to medicare fraud except the illegitimate admin is now encouraging them cheating.

    • The explanation is, the hospitals are holding anyone admitted with covid until they test negative. Most of these patients were admitted for other medical reasons and had no idea they even had covid until the automatic testing during admission. If you then hold all these positive patients, most of which have no symptoms, until they test negative, you run out of beds pretty quickly.
      On top of that, many of these ICU full claims are lies. Recently here in Tampa, the national media quoted a doctor claims g Tampa General Hospital was full and turning away patients. Turned out the Doctor was did not work for Tampa general and the head of the ICU said they were at less than 50% capacity. Down in West Palm, it was reported a Hospitals ICU was full of Covid patients and not accepting new admissions. Turned out, it was a satellite hospital with only two ICU beds, and even with that, only one of the patients in the ICU was Covid positive…and had ZERO symptoms.

      No matter what you believe about this crap, you cannot claim the government, media or medical profession is being honest. They are all lying…we just need to determine the reason why. Money, power, politics…whatever it is, it is not SCIENCE.

      • Very well explained, to the point and not rambling about. The clarity should soak into the thickest brain matter out in the left world, but as my father use to say, its hard for water to get through rock.

    • Hospitals are businesses who’s model of operation has them running with ICU beds filled at 80%- 95% capacity at ALL times. Now compound that with 1.4million nurses furloughed during the outbreak because of the cancellation of elective and non-vital procedures as well as the wave of nurses resigning due to inoculation mandates and you end up not with ICU beds overflowing, but with ICU beds lacking their attendant staff. Incidentally it is has also been estimated that only 19% of those in the “overflowing” ICU wards are there for covid..

    • No explanation of where you got this very vague ‘fact’ or what evidence supports it. BTW hospitals are for profit businesses. When they give you a message related to the services they provide (“we’re overflowing with customers! Make your reservation now”) it’s called advertising. If you’re under the impression it’s anything else, you should check your facts. You should check them anyway. When someone tells you ‘red state’ anything they’re not giving you facts they’re giving you an agenda.

  • I seem to recall that the Feds were paying hospitals $50k for each reported Covid death. If this is so, it would be incentive for over reporting said deaths.

  • I read a report recently that said that children are experiencing a steep increase in RSV infections leading to hospitalizations, where they also contract COVID. The RSV is more severe than typical because the kids have spent the last year at home, away from the customary Petrie dish of school viruses and infections, which normally increases their immune response and prevents them from contracting more serious diseases. So keeping kids away from school to keep them from getting sick is making them sick.

About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

We Could Use Your Help

Help us fight for honesty in journalism and against the tyranny of the left. Issues & Insights is published by the editors of what once was Investor's Business Daily's award-winning opinion pages. If you like what you see, leave a donation by clicking on donate button above. You can also set up regular donations if you like. Ad revenue helps, but your support will truly make a difference. (Please note that we are not set up as a charitable organization, so donations aren't tax deductible.) Thank you!