Washington DOH: High levels of hospital occupancy likely to continue through the fall

Inside the ICU
Copyright 4 News Now

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health believes high levels of hospital occupancy will continue through the fall. 

The latest data show COVID-19 case counts, hospital admissions and hospital occupancy have declined recently, but the overall levels still remain high. 

The latest report findings show COVID transmission rates declined in September. DOH attributes this to preventative behaviors, like masking in response to the delta variant surge. 

COVID-19 prevalence also declined in September. The latest numbers show about 1 in every 244 Washingtonians having an active COVID-19 infection. This is about half the estimated prevalence reported in last month’s report. 

DOH said the average number of daily COVID-19 deaths varied over the last month but is still high. The seven-day rolling average for deaths was between five and 10 through early August, but that number increased to 36 in early September. That number declined slightly to 33 by the end of September. 

As for hospital admissions and occupancy, the DOH said the overall numbers have decreased, but remain at a high level. The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 daily hospital admissions increased to 195 as of August 29, but declined to 115 by October 8. Occupancy related to COVID-19 declined from nearly 25 percent of bed capacity in early September to 17 percent in early October. 

Despite these declines, total hospital occupancy has remained constant at over 90 percent. 

“We’re hopeful that the declines we’ve seen in the last few weeks will continue, but that will only be possible if vaccination rates continue to increase and we continue wearing masks,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. “Our individual choices over the next several weeks will determine whether hospitals are able to return to a sustainable level of operations at the end of December.” 

The DOH recommends people continue to wear face coverings in indoor and crowded spaces, and encourages those who have not been vaccinated to initiate that process. Health leaders also encourage Washingtonians to get their seasonal flu shots. 

You can find the latest COVID data on the DOH’s data dashboard.

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