TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Department of Health Commission Judith Persichilli, who needs no introduction, today revealed that New Jersey’s incidental COVID-19 hospitalization rate is 61%. Previously Persichilli said that number was about 50%.
Incidental COVID-19 hospitalizations refer to patients who arrive at a hospital for conditions other than COVID-19 related illnesses, treatments, or procedures, but test positive for COVID-19 upon admittance to the hospital.
That means a person with a broken leg, if they test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at the hospital, they are recorded as a COVID-19 hospitalization, even if they were asymptomatic. Only 39% of people hospitalized in New Jersey are diagnosed with COVID-19 as their primary illness.
Persichilli was also accused today of using child COVID-19 deaths, a small number of which have occurred, but many of which are also identified as incidental, as a scare tactic to scare parents into vaccinating their young children.
News 12 reported Alex Zdan asked Governor Phil Murphy and Persichilli if the state is misrepresenting COVID-19 data as a scare tactic.
Murphy said it’s a mistake to assume that the incidental COVID-19 cases can have no health impact, “When we know, of course, they do.”
State Medical Director Ed Lifshitz said COVID-19 numbers are now less accurate said if COVID-19 becomes a common cold, he won’t care about case rates.
“We use the term incidental, which is kind of a misnomer because it’s really co-morbid condition when COVID becomes a co-morbid condition,” Persichilli said. “That really is not the appropriate term. We believe the trend is improving, but I would not consider COVID-19 as just an incidental diagnosis, but a co-morbid condition that could be a contributing factor complicating your hospital stay and outcome.”
Murphy called for a national rebranding of the term, “We didn’t come up with that one.