In Maine, state having difficulty gathering critical pandemic data from hospitals

In the past few days I’ve written a couple of times on an unexpected problem with Maine’s pandemic response planning: more than three weeks into the crisis, the state Center for Disease Control hasn’t been able to get complete daily capacity and disease data from all of the state’s hospitals.

On Thursday I reported on missing data regarding Intensive Care Unit beds and ventilators, as well as how many Covid-19 patients were using each. Apparently some hospitals — including an unnamed large one — hadn’t been reporting any of this regularly to the CDC. Agency director Nirav Shah indicates this is now under control.

But in today’s Press Herald I wrote about another problem: the CDC still doesn’t know how many people are hospitalized with Covid-19 on any given day in Maine, and wasn’t even asking the question until Mar. 31. I also learned the recently announced distributions of personal protective equipment are not new sources, but rather materials received in the third (and likely last) federal shipment from the Strategic National Stockpile. Hospitals say they only have enough PPE if social distancing significantly blunts the surge. The supply chain for this, as reported last week, is broken.

Wash your hands, keep your distance, watch out for each other, and stay safe out there.