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COVID-19-Related Hospitalization Rates and Severe Outcomes Among Veterans From 5 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers: Hospital-Based Surveillance Study.

Cardemil CV, Dahl R, Prill MM, Cates J, Brown S, Perea A, Marconi V, Bell L, Rodriguez-Barradas MC, Rivera-Dominguez G, Beenhouwer D, Poteshkina A, Holodniy M, Lucero-Obusan C, Balachandran N, Hall AJ, Kim L, Langley G. COVID-19-Related Hospitalization Rates and Severe Outcomes Among Veterans From 5 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers: Hospital-Based Surveillance Study. JMIR public health and surveillance. 2021 Jan 22; 7(1):e24502.

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BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has disproportionately affected older adults and certain racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Data quantifying the disease burden, as well as describing clinical outcomes during hospitalization among these groups, are needed. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to describe interim COVID-19 hospitalization rates and severe clinical outcomes by age group and race and ethnicity among US veterans by using a multisite surveillance network. METHODS: We implemented a multisite COVID-19 surveillance platform in 5 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers located in Atlanta, Bronx, Houston, Palo Alto, and Los Angeles, collectively serving more than 396,000 patients annually. From February 27 to July 17, 2020, we actively identified inpatient cases with COVID-19 by screening admitted patients and reviewing their laboratory test results. We then manually abstracted the patients'' medical charts for demographics, underlying medical conditions, and clinical outcomes. Furthermore, we calculated hospitalization incidence and incidence rate ratios, as well as relative risk for invasive mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit admission, and case fatality rate after adjusting for age, race and ethnicity, and underlying medical conditions. RESULTS: We identified 621 laboratory-confirmed, hospitalized COVID-19 cases. The median age of the patients was 70 years, with 65.7% (408/621) aged = 65 years and 94% (584/621) male. Most COVID-19 diagnoses were among non-Hispanic Black (325/621, 52.3%) veterans, followed by non-Hispanic White (153/621, 24.6%) and Hispanic or Latino (112/621, 18%) veterans. Hospitalization rates were the highest among veterans who were = 85 years old, Hispanic or Latino, and non-Hispanic Black (430, 317, and 298 per 100,000, respectively). Veterans aged = 85 years had a 14-fold increased rate of hospitalization compared with those aged 18-29 years (95% CI: 5.7-34.6), whereas Hispanic or Latino and Black veterans had a 4.6- and 4.2-fold increased rate of hospitalization, respectively, compared with non-Hispanic White veterans (95% CI: 3.6-5.9). Overall, 11.6% (72/621) of the patients required invasive mechanical ventilation, 26.6% (165/621) were admitted to the intensive care unit, and 16.9% (105/621) died in the hospital. The adjusted relative risk for invasive mechanical ventilation and admission to the intensive care unit did not differ by age group or race and ethnicity, but veterans aged = 65 years had a 4.5-fold increased risk of death while hospitalized with COVID-19 compared with those aged < 65 years (95% CI: 2.4-8.6). CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 surveillance at the 5 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers across the United States demonstrated higher hospitalization rates and severe outcomes among older veterans, as well as higher hospitalization rates among Hispanic or Latino and non-Hispanic Black veterans than among non-Hispanic White veterans. These findings highlight the need for targeted prevention and timely treatment for veterans, with special attention to older aged, Hispanic or Latino, and non-Hispanic Black veterans.

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