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Washington hospitals packed as delta variant surges

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 8/4/2021 Nick Popham, KOMO News Reporter
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SEATTLE - Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in our state are back on the rise and doctors say the majority of those patients are people who aren't vaccinated.

"It is very demoralizing for the staff in the intensive care units and critical care units who are having to care for the very sick COVID patients," said Cassie Sauer with the State Hospital Association.

According to Sauer, there's an easy solution people just aren't taking advantage of and that's the vaccine.

"Ninety-nine percent who end up in the hospital with COVID-19 are not vaccinated," said Dr. John Lynch of Harborview Medical Center.

Even though nearly 53 percent of people in our state are now fully vaccinated, hospitalization rates are climbing back up because the powerful delta variant is spreading rapidly among people who haven't gotten the shot which is leading to fewer available hospital beds.

"All of our facilities in Washington State are very full," Lynch said.

"At any given time, we have an extremely high number of patients in our ED waiting for beds," said Florence Chang, Chief Operating Officer with MultiCare Health.

According to the Department of Health, 85 percent of staffed hospital beds are occupied and about 11 percent of our ICU beds are filled with COVID-19 patients.

Back on July 10, only 3 percent of ICU beds were filled with COVID patients.

"Every day this battle looks like it's slipping backward," said Dr. Nathan Schlicher with the State Medical Association.

Caption: KOMO

It’s why Schlicher, Sauer and other medical professionals are recommending Washington hospitals require their workers to be vaccinated to try and limit the spread of the virus as much as they can.

"This is a big deal,” Sauer said. “We understand vaccine requirements are controversial but we think it is the right thing to do."

Because to Schlicher, "If we don't do this, I'm really worried about what this fall is going to look like."

"We don't have extra nurses,” Schlicher said, “extra doctors, extra respiratory therapists sort of ready to go. We are pretty much at max."

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