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Vaccine appointments available at Spokane Arena; case counts plateau statewide

UPDATED: Mon., March 15, 2021

Statewide, hospitals and health care providers are reporting that they have open appointments for COVID-19 vaccines.

The Washington State Hospital Association supported the governor’s decision to move up the next level of vaccine eligibility to later this week instead of later in the month.

“We feel like there’s been a lot of outreach to older residents and have been hearing that people are able to get spots,” Cassie Sauer, CEO of the association, told reporters Monday.

Hospitals have been able to reach out directly to their patients after receiving permission from the Department of Health. This has enabled hospitals and large health systems to schedule appointments directly with their patients, create wait lists in some situations and reach out to one-time patients who visited the emergency room or others who might not have access to health care regularly.

Sauer said hospitals were encouraged to retain about 20% of their vaccine slots for the general public but could use the rest of the doses for their patients.

More vaccine appointments have opened up in the past couple weeks, providers said, noting that they are, in many cases, not even using wait lists anymore and able to schedule people for appointments when they call.

As of March 10, 61% of Washington residents 65 and older have received at least one shot of a vaccine.

There are appointments open for first doses at several locations throughout the county this week, including at the Safeway-Department of Health mass vaccination site at the Arena. To book an appointment, you can register directly on Safeway’s appointment webpage, or call the Department of Health at (800) 525-0127, then press #.

If you received your first dose at the Arena, you should be able to schedule a second-dose appointment at that time, but if not, contact the Department of Health to schedule that appointment.

As more people get vaccinated, hospital admissions continue to decline, specifically in residents 70 and older, a new state report found.

While hospital admission rates have declined, the same report also found that case counts have plateaued and are at October 2020 levels. Case counts appear to be increasing in 20- and 30-year-olds statewide, a concerning sign for modelers.

“Signs of increases in cases among younger adults foreshadow similar increases in other non-vaccinated populations, and even if these populations are younger, the increased transmissibility (and possibly, fatality) of the new variant portends greater burdens of severe disease and death,” the modeling report says. “Lessons from other countries have indicated that if transmission cannot be rapidly controlled, surges in severe disease and deaths will likely necessitate strict lockdowns. This emphasizes the need for swift action in controlling transmission through active protection of essential workers, strict adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions, and limitation of high-transmission indoor activity.”

The most prevalent variant identified in Washington originated in the United Kingdom, where it was more transmissible than the original virus. The variant has been confirmed in several counties, including in Spokane County.

Hospital officials asked the public to continue to wear masks, physically distance and limit gatherings to keep case counts from increasing.

“We need to see case counts go down quite a bit, so the virus has less chance to mutate,” Dr. Mark Johnson, infectious disease specialist at Confluence Health in Wenatchee, told reporters Monday.

Latest local numbersThe Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 54 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and no additional deaths.

There are 39 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Spokane hospitals.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 58 new cases over the weekend and on Monday and no additional deaths.

There are 23 Panhandle residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

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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