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Washington COVID-19 hospitalizations appear to be declining

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)

In the past week hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have declined statewide in Washington.

Even with the decline, numbers are still higher than they were at the state’s peak last winter.

There were 1,329 COVID patients hospitalized statewide as of Sunday, compared to a week ago when 1,557 patients were hospitalized with the virus.

As hospitalizations decline, deaths continue to be reported. The state confirms about 30 deaths a day due to COVID-19, Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington state Hospital Association, said.

The decline in hospitalizations has not resulted in enough capacity for health care facilities to resume elective and nonemergent surgeries, however.

Last week, local providers in Spokane said they continue to postpone elective procedures, including cancer surgeries and heart procedures.

Things are not much better in Western Washington.

One of the consequences of treating a high volume of COVID patients in intensive care units is people not getting surgeries and procedures they need, Dr. Ryan Keay, the medical director of the emergency department at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, said Monday.

Keay said Everett hospital has been close to crisis standards of care, averting the rationing of care by working with other hospitals in the region.

Health care providers are concerned as they head into flu season when patient levels usually are high even without a pandemic.

“Our biggest challenge is having enough staff to help us deal with this,” Dr. Radha Agrawal, a critical care physician and pulmonologist at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, said.

The state has requested federal resources to help hospitals address their staffing gaps and challenges.

Across the state line, hospitalizations do not appear to be declining in Idaho.

Kootenai Health was treating 116 COVID patients as of Monday morning, including 39 people in the critical care unit.

Here’s a look at local numbers

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 169 COVID-19 cases on Monday and 528 cases over the weekend. The district also reported four additional deaths on Monday.

There have been 836 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County residents.

There are 197 patients hospitalized in Spokane with COVID-19.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 144 new cases over the weekend and on Monday. The district also reported 27 additional deaths due to COVID-19.

There have been 471 deaths due to COVID-19 in Panhandle residents.

There are 118 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories 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.