Background: Consecutive negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test results are being considered to estimate viral clearance in COVID-19 patients. However, there are anecdotal reports of hospitalization from protracted COVID-19 complications despite such confirmed viral clearance, presenting a clinical conundrum. Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 222 hospitalized COVID-19 patients to compare those that were readmitted post-viral clearance (hospitalized post-clearance cohort, n = 49) with those that were not re-admitted post-viral clearance (non-hospitalized post-clearance cohort, n = 173) between February and October 2020. In order to differentiate these two cohorts, we used neural network models for the ‘augmented curation’ of comorbidities and complications with positive sentiment in the Electronic Hosptial Records physician notes. Findings: In the year preceding COVID-19 onset, anemia (n = 13 [26.5%], p-value: 0.007), cardiac arrhythmias (n = 14 [28.6%], p-value: 0.015), and acute kidney injury (n = 7 [14.3%], p-value: 0.030) were significantly enriched in the physician notes of the hospitalized post-clearance cohort. Interpretation: Overall, this retrospective study highlights specific pre-existing conditions that are associated with higher hospitalization rates in COVID-19 patients despite viral clearance and motivates follow-up prospective research into the associated risk factors. Funding: This work was supported by Nference, inc.
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