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State's reported COVID-19 numbers for Southeast Texas may not paint accurate picture, experts say

To get the hospitalization rate, the state uses the number patients with COVID-19, divided by the total number of available hospital beds.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Experts in Southeast Texas told 12News the region could be just a few days away from scaling back on COVID-19 restrictions, causing businesses and restaurants to reduce capacity once again. 

It all has to do with the hospitalization rate. How the rate is calculated recently changed. 

Before October, officials used the number of patients with COVID-19, divided by the total number of patients in the hospital. The governor changed that method. Now, it's the number of patients with COVID-19, divided by the total number of available hospital beds.

12News spoke with doctors and researchers on Thursday morning. 

They said it may not paint an accurate picture of what's actually going on inside our hospitals because the federal government allows the state to include things like psychiatric beds, bassinets and even surgery beds in that number. 

MORE | SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council website

RELATED: COVID-19 hospitalization data from DSHS and local leaders don't match. But why?

Lori Upton is the vice president of SETRAC. She said the way the state is reporting the numbers is the way the federal government wants to receive the data.

"Our data is operational data. It is the actual number of beds I can put a COVID patient into. I can't put them in a bassinet, I can't put them in a NICU and I can't put them in a psych unit, but DSHS has to report overall beds available because that's what the federal government wants," Upton said. 

When comparing the hospitalization rate over seven days from SETRAC and the state, the numbers look a bit different. 

SETRAC is showing the percentage based on COVID-19 patients to all patients, unlike the state data. The doctors who spoke to 12News said no matter what numbers you look at, know that the hospitalization rate is only going up. 

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