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COVID-19

News >  Health

Washington’s hospital occupancy could stay high through the year as delayed surgeries are expected to resume

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 21, 2021

A negative pressure hospital room is seen after its occupant died from COVID-19 and the bed was removed for sterilization on Sept. 17 at MultiCare Deaconess Hospital.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
A negative pressure hospital room is seen after its occupant died from COVID-19 and the bed was removed for sterilization on Sept. 17 at MultiCare Deaconess Hospital. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Hospital occupancy will likely remain high throughout the winter as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a new modeling report from the Washington State Department of Health shows.

While hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have declined in recent weeks, modelers project that hospitals will be quite busy “due to increases in people seeking health care and elective procedures deferred at the peak of the delta surge, as well as staffing shortages,” the report says.

The influenza season could also keep hospitals busy throughout the winter.

What COVID activity will look like this winter largely depends on human behavior, and how much people use masks, travel, gather or spend time indoors.

Modelers estimate that 63.5% of the total population have immunity either from getting COVID-19 or being fully vaccinated in Washington, which leaves a little more than a third of the total population vulnerable to the virus.

If COVID cases increase modestly, COVID hospitalizations could continue to decrease through December. If COVID cases moderately increase, however, COVID hospitalizations might decline until the end of November, when they would begin to increase again.

Public health officials continue to encourage vaccination for those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as booster doses for those who are eligible.

Statewide, 72% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated. In Spokane County, 59% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated.

Here’s a look at local numbers

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 325 new COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths on Thursday.

There are 139 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District reported 354 new COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths.

There have been 578 deaths due to COVID-19 in Panhandle residents.

There are 133 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus. Kootenai Health is treating 135 patients with COVID-19, including 44 in the critical care unit.

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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