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A doctor at a temporary field hospital in Washington, D.C. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

As the coronavirus really began to take hold in the U.S. earlier this year, experts warned that hospitals would soon be overrun with patients — but health systems never ran out of beds, even in New York City.

Between the lines: The hospitalization rate was much lower than predicted, ProPublica reports.

  • Data from Wuhan, China, suggested that about 20% of known coronavirus cases required hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that for every person who died of the virus, more than 11 would be hospitalized. The real number is around four hospitalizations per death.
  • State hospitalization rates vary from 6% to more than 20%, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
  • In New York City, where around 20% of the adult population had coronavirus antibodies by mid-April, that translates to a hospitalization rate of about 2%, Nathaniel Hupert, an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine and co-director of the Cornell Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness, told ProPublica.

Worth noting: Hospitals also were good at increasing their number of beds. And the number of non-coronavirus patients was drastically reduced, both because elective care was postponed and some patients with other emergencies stayed home.

What we're watching: There were plenty of lessons learned from the first wave of the pandemic that can be applied going forward, particularly as the situation worsens in some states.

Go deeper: Insurers limit which coronavirus tests they'll pay for

Editor's note: The photo caption on this story has been corrected to note that it was taken in Washington, D.C. (not California).

Go deeper

Sep 23, 2020 - Health

CDC director says over 90% of Americans have not yet been exposed to coronavirus

CDC Director Robert Redfield said at a Senate hearing Wednesday that preliminary data shows that over 90% of Americans remain susceptible to COVID-19 — meaning they have not yet been exposed to the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The U.S. surpassed 200,000 coronavirus deaths this week — the most recorded in the world — and over 6.8 million Americans have contracted the virus so far.

Coronavirus cases rise in 22 states

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Texas added a backlog of cases on Sept. 22, removing that from the 7-day average Texas' cases increased 28.3%; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The coronavirus is surging once again across the U.S., with cases rising in 22 states over the past week.

The big picture: There isn't one big event or sudden occurrence that explains this increase. We simply have never done a very good job containing the virus, despite losing 200,000 lives in just the past six months, and this is what that persistent failure looks like.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.