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COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing in Washington as some hospitals struggle to transfer patients

UPDATED: Fri., July 30, 2021

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients in Washington state have increased steadily all month long.

At the end of June, there were 266 people hospitalized with the virus statewide, and Friday there were 469 people hospitalized with the virus.

The virus hospitalizations are an added stressor to already relatively full hospitals and intensive care units across the state.

The most recent seven-day average occupancy rate of the state’s staffed ICU beds is 84%, with just 10% of those beds used by COVID-19 patients.

Matt Schanz, administrator of the Northeast Tri-County Health District, said hospitals in the region are struggling to transfer patients, those with COVID and those with other medical needs.

“By and large, it’s non-COVID individuals, and when you add in that increase in the number of cases of COVID, that certainly complicates that idea of staffed ICU bed capacity,” Schanz told reporters Friday.

The tight hospital capacity has health officials concerned about what could be coming, especially if the delta variant leads to increased hospitalizations.

Calls to the Washington Medical Coordination Center at Haborview Medical Center, which helps coordinate patient transfers across hospitals statewide, have increased in recent weeks, Schanz said.

At the same time, case counts are beginning to rise in counties and regions with low vaccination rates. From the start to the end of this week, the Northeast Tri-County region went from moderate to substantial transmission status, meaning masks are recommended for everyone regardless of vaccination status in indoor public settings.

Schanz said the district is investigating clusters of cases at summer camps and workplaces. Long-term care facilities continue to see cases of the virus as well.

In Spokane County, there are outbreaks at five long-term care facilities and one adult family home.

The Spokane Veterans Home had two staff members and two residents test positive for the virus. The facility would not share the vaccination status of the people who tested positive, but so far, no one else has tested positive despite regular testing.

A look at local numbers:The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 96 new COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths.

There are 41 people hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 134 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and no additional deaths.

There are 29 Panhandle residents are hospitalized with the virus.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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