COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Washington

August 26, 2021 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Health officials say that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in is doubling every 18 to 19 days in the state.

The surge, driven by the delta variant, has “stressed, stretched and strained” hospital resources across the state, Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said Wednesday at a Department of Health briefing.

The Seattle Times reported that the state has documented 5,879 possible vaccine breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in Washington state, but the vast majority of cases involve unvaccinated patients.

More than 94% of COVID-19 patients hospitalized between Feb. 1 and Aug. 3 were not fully vaccinated, Shah said. Chief Science Officer Scott Lindquist said a young person died of COVID-19 at a Seattle-area hospital on Tuesday.

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Lindquist did not share additional information on the patient other than to say they were “between zero and 19,” and that the death was “very disappointing when we have masks and vaccines.”

Dr. Steve Mitchell, medical director for emergency services at Harborview Medical Center, said that hospitals throughout the state are facing their highest levels of occupancy ever, and the impact has been especially hard on regional and rural hospitals where there are no critical care beds left.

According to the state Department of Health, there were 1,346 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Washington on Tuesday.

There have been more than 488,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases — plus more than 54,000 “probable” cases — in Washington state, and 6,448 deaths. State health officials say that most of the state’s new infections are caused by the delta variant, a more contagious version of the coronavirus.

As of Monday, 72.4% of people age 12 and older have initiated vaccination and nearly 64% are fully vaccinated.