Beacon Staff 

COVID-19 hospital occupancy is soaring in Washington state

New data provide deeper insight into the impact of COVID-19 patients on hospitals


Last updated 11/27/2020 at 8:34pm

COVID-19 hospital occupancy is surging throughout Washington as the state continues to experience exponential growth in new cases. Statewide, officials are seeing alarming increases in the number of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals as well as the number hospitalized in Intensive Care Unit beds—critical capacity needed to treat severe COVID-19 cases as well as other patients with serious conditions.

The trend is highlighted in new data added to the state’s Risk Assessment dashboard today. The dashboard shows that the number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients in our hospitals doubled from 471 on November 1st to 932 on November 23rd. In addition, the number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients in our ICUs increased about 75% from 124 on November 1st to 214 on November 23rd. If this doubling rate continues, we may have more than 1,800 COVID-19 patients in our hospitals by mid-December.

Because COVID-19 patients may stay in the hospital for several weeks, hospital occupancy will continue to rise for some time even after hospital admissions level off. In some cases, large hospital systems are facing situations that would necessitate delaying non-urgent procedures due to a lack of staffed hospital beds. Situations like this can cause other patients with non-COVID-19 conditions to have to wait, and this also impacts anyone who else may need to seek care. It is imperative that we ensure access to hospital care for anyone who needs it, whether they have COVID-19 or another illness or injury, the DOH states.

“This situation is extraordinarily urgent, and we need everyone in Washington state to take action now to stop the spread of COVID-19 before our hospitals and frontline healthcare workers are overwhelmed,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “I am extremely concerned about the current exponential growth of COVID-19 cases. We must all re-commit to flatten the curve now.”

Officials say there is still time for Washingtonians to make a difference: wear a mask around people you don’t live with (even close friends and family), stay home as much as possible, and don’t gather with people outside your immediate household. Wash hands frequently, get a flu shot to avoid symptoms that are similar to COVID-19 and to avoid use of hospital resources for other ailments. Stay home if showing symptoms that could be COVID-19.


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