Why the Secrecy about Hospital Beds and COVID?

by Kerry Dougherty

Anyone remember why the country is locked down?

I do.

With images of Italy’s collapsing healthcare system and Italian death panels doling out beds and ventilators in early March, we were told we had to take radical steps so that American hospitals would not be similarly overwhelmed by the COVID-19 virus.

“Fifteen days to slow the spread,” they told us.

And we complied.

Fifteen days became 30, which then became 45 and in some places — like Virginia — the shutdowns have no end in sight.

As you sit at home, worrying about your mental health, your job, your finances and your family do you ever wonder just how many beds are occupied by COVID patients in the hospital nearest you?

Good luck finding out.

Neither the state nor the local hospitals will tell you. Never mind that the hospital industry took a whopping $100 billion in stimulus money from the public earlier this month. They seem to believe they’re under no obligation to reveal how many COVID patients are in any specific facility.

So imagine my delight when a local doctor sent me a copy of a “medical staff update” distributed last Thursday at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, the region’s Level 1 trauma center.

It contained a chart showing the number of COVID patients in the hospital that day.

There were nine in regular rooms. Two in ICU. None on ventilators.

This was heartening news. Absolutely splendid.

But when I phoned Sentara Health Systems yesterday to get numbers for other local hospitals I was told I wasn’t supposed to see the ones that I had from Norfolk. They definitely weren’t going to give me any more.

This, from the hospital spokesman:

Virtually all hospitals in Virginia share their patient data with the Virginia Department of Health and figures are reported regionally. The number of patients in a particular hospital can change by the hour as patients are admitted, discharged home or tested in the ED and sent home to self-isolate as presumptive positives. What we tell you at 10:00AM will be different by 2:00PM due to daily patient flow.


Of course the numbers would vary throughout the day. What’s wrong with saying something. Like “At noon on Monday, April 27 there were X number of COVID patients in Sentara Virginia Beach Hospital”?

I begged. I sent an email. I asked the spokesman to go up the food chain for permission to release the information.

No dice.

It was much the same story when Jim Bacon, from Bacon’s Rebellion, asked for bed counts from Bon Secours in Richmond yesterday. This was the reply he received:

“Consistent with our commitment to support all privacy laws, we are not able to discuss the protected medical information about any of our patients. All confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported to the Virginia Department of Health.”

That excuse is laughable.

Reporting the number of COVID patients in any given hospital on any given day doesn’t reveal “protected medical information.” Those are numbers, without names or details attached.

For some reason, hospitals are jealously guarding information about patient populations. And Virginia’s Department of Health is satisfied with vague, regional reporting.

Why all the secrecy surrounding COVID-19 and hospitalizations? Why don’t officials with the state or hospital groups want to let the public see a hospital-by-hospital, day-by-day breakdown of the beds occupied by COVID-19 patients?

Could it be they fear that the public might grow rebellious realizing they were on lockdown for a pandemic that had hospitalized only a handful of people in some localities?

Instead of specific up-to-the-minute local information, Virginia health officials shovel statewide figures at us that are bloated by ghastly nursing home outbreaks and a couple of hot spots in Northern Virginia.

As far as our little corner of Virginia, here is what you can glean from the state’s website:

Virginia Beach has had 72 hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic and 10 deaths.

Norfolk has had 36 hospitalizations and 3 deaths.

Chesapeake has had 214 cases, 45 hospitalizations and 6 deaths.

Portsmouth has had 114 cases, 32 hospitalizations and 5 deaths.

If my abacus is right, that means in an area with a population of more than 1 million, we have had 185 folks sick enough to be hospitalized and 24 deaths.

Very sad. But hardly hair-on-fire, close-it-all down time.

Someone should remind the commonwealth’s health honchos and the healthcare industry that members of the public have completely disrupted their lives, lost their jobs and watched their life savings evaporate to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed.

The very least hospitals — and the state — owe us is complete transparency about the impact the epidemic is having on our local hospitals.

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9 responses to “Why the Secrecy about Hospital Beds and COVID?”

  1. djrippert Avatar

    The answer seems obvious. Steal a thought from Virginia’s second amendment sanctuary movement. Stop enforcing Northam’s lockdown orders in Hampton Roads.

  2. djrippert Avatar

    Here we go again. Last week the WHO saw no evidence that the infected got immunity. This week, just the opposite.

    “In the now-deleted tweet, WHO said, “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from #COVID19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” drawing pushback on social media.”

    “WHO responded Saturday by walking back the thread, saying it had “caused concern & we would like to clarify,” and replaced the tweet with: “We expect that most people who are infected with #COVID19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection.”

    So, is Northam’s continued state-wide lockdown based on last week’s so-called experts’ opinion or those same experts’ opinions this week?


    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Excellent article, Kerry.

      And, of course, no one really knows who actually died of Coved-19 or simple old age along with one to five other comorbidity(s) as the vast majority do.

      Let add in a recent comment of TMT:”
      “In an order that seems consistent with those of other courts that struck down bans on abortions due to the pandemic, a Virginia Circuit Court in Lynchburg struck Northam’s ban against operating a gun range during the state’s partial shutdown. Who would have thought? The Constitution cutting many ways?

      All this secrecy, and history of mendacity by Virginia’s political elite and their crony allies, are the primary reasons one cannot trust political action in Virginia, and why, like Kerry, everyone must be highly vigilant. For, in Virginia, if past is prologue to what happening today in Virginia, political supporters of those in power will gain political advantage during any real or invented crisis, and that advantage will always come at the expense of those without political muscle. And, along the way, most everyone else in state will be kept in the dark as to what in fact is going on. So, for example, my earlier comments:”

      “Here is my prediction on what the future holds should the Governor’s recovery plan and his task force template be strictly enforced and adhered to:

      Small business owners and their businesses will be crushed in large numbers, many to never rise again in Virginia.

      Large and mid size commercial (including non profit) operators, particularly those well connected politically will do far, far better in Virginia than smaller businesses.

      The poor will be hammered. So will much of the middle class of all ages (young, middle aged, older). They will also be hammered, particularly those who cannot telecommute. Many of these folks will never recover, and/or gain the purchase to attain the quality of life, health, social well-being and/or financial and social security they would have otherwise gained but for government action.

      Indeed, most all this damage will be government induced, not the result of deaths by virus.

      As to who has best grip on what is going on here, read two old friends often mentioned here earlier.

      WSJ columnist Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. And Standford’s John Ioannidis. To cut through B/S combine wisdom of both in this weekends WSJ.

      As to usefulness of Virginia’s virus testing to date, Jenkins got it about right:
      “It’s the equivalent of counting drunks and people who drive blue Austin-Healeys to estimate the risk of dying in a car accident.”

      As to accountability. Expect the power structure and its MSM allies to work very hard to hide and scapegoat all the damage they’ve done to small business, poor, and middle class, the very group that has done so much to keep America going to date in the crisis. In return they will get the shaft.”


      “As Governor Northam has announced the creation of a COVID-19 task force, Virginians beware:

      In Virginia, a government created “task force” is always a group of Virginia Gentlemen organized into a gang of bandits specially deputized by the Commonwealth’s plutocrats to raid the public wealth and assets wherever same may be found and plundered – its treasury, its lands, it monuments and historic artifacts, its public buildings, facilities, roads, airports, dumps, liquor stores, gambling casinos, public colleges and universities, and all its licenses, its emoluments, its offices and/or titles and/or privileges, of all and sundry sort.

      And further beware, Virginians:

      That those deputized Virginia Gentlemen bandits shall and always will divvy up this public booty among themselves to be possessed and owned, jointly and severally, by those bandits as they in their sole discretion shall determine, in perpetuity.

      See, for example, Dulles Toll Road, Silver Line, Dulles Airport and Million Dollar Bus Stops.”

      For more see:

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Let’s see… Kerry wants more “official” data so she can:

    1. – write a thoughtful and balanced article on the subject

    2.- write yet another inflammatory diatribe that resonates like wildfire through the anti-govt echo chamber?

    hmm… is it 1 or 2…?? 1 or 2?

    Let me consult my custom “do bears do it in the woods” Ouija board!


    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Magic 8 Ball ? says, “Chances Are Good.”

  4. I paraphrase an article from Reston’s local newspaper yesterday, it said there were about 100 “outbreaks” of COVID in Virginia, with about 30 of those outbreaks were in Fairfax. (Assuming I got this info correct, the article was a bit confusing).

    I have never heard the terminology “outbreaks”. It leads me to believe secrecy about the cases is due to sensitivity about telling the press/etc. where the hot spots are, to protect the places where it is happening from bad press.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      People will flee the hotspots like we have seen with New York and other hot spots. They just fan out to the countryside wherever they can find a spot to land, second homes, relatives, states with less COVID19, etc.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Gee. So sorry there are HIPPA rules. Blame the Dems!

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Somebody feels entitled. “I want what I want, and I want it now.” I can even see a stamping foot, can’t you?

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