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COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline statewide

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 19, 2021

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Washington continue to decline at a gradual pace.

There is more capacity in the system than there was back in September at the height of the delta surge, although more than 1,000 residents remain hospitalized.

Staffing remains a challenge for most facilities across the state and the country, according to hospital leaders. Even before the vaccine mandate took effect on Monday, many hospitals lost workers due to burnout from the pandemic.

“Everybody is looking for staff,” Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington Hospital Association, told reporters Monday.

The Department of Health partnered with a federal contractor to send workers to some health care facilities, but federal funding from FEMA requires that those staff be doing COVID-specific work which can limit how much support hospitals, especially smaller facilities, can get.

It has led to hospitals competing for some of the same traveling health care personnel.

Staffing shortages also have led to hospitals curtailing or capping some services.

At Samaritan Healthcare in Moses Lake, operations and services requiring surgeries were reduced to free up staff to help elsewhere, said Dr. Andrea Carter, chief medical officer.

“There comes a point where we have to cap what we’re doing as a hospital,” Carter said.

Thousands of surgeries and procedures in Spokane County hospitals were also delayed due to the delta surge.

A look at local numbers

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 81 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and 296 over the weekend. The district also reported four additional deaths; since the beginning of the pandemic 884 Spokane County residents have died from COVID-19.

There are 157 people hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District reported 373 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and over the weekend. There are 3,025 backlogged cases. At Kootenai Health on Monday, there were 123 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, with 49 requiring intensive care. That marks a record number of critical care patients at one time during the pandemic. The previous record was 43 intensive care patients.

The district also confirmed 17 additional deaths.

There have been 557 deaths due to COVID-19 in Panhandle residents.

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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