Doctors worry flu and RSV season could hit hospitals hard

SPOKANE, Wash.– In Spokane County, more than 400 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. In the last day, 169 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Spokane. Hospitals are treating 197 people in local hospitals.

In this fifth wave, both Washington and Idaho keep surpassing records for the number of people in the hospital. However, Washington is seeing COVID-19 numbers start to trend down but health leaders say they’re still nervous about the future.

That’s because flu and RSV season are right around the corner.

Hospitals leaders say that worries them because they are still strained with the recent COVID-19 wave and their workers are exhausted.

“The way we’re operating right now is our nurses are pretty much being pushed to the max. if we have more flu on top of that, I don’t know what our plans are. I just don’t see it going very well,” said Pulmonologist and Critical Care Medicine Specialist Dr. Radha Agrawal at Overlake Medical Center.

Health experts credit masking and hand hygiene for last year’s tame flu season. Right now, it’s too soon to tell what will happen this year.

They are worried flu and RSV numbers could push them over the edge.

“Everybody’s pretty exhausted. the emergency departments, the acute care units, the ICUs, the idea of facing a surge of yet another thing, another comorbid illness is exhausting,” said ER Medical Director Dr. Ryan Keay at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

Fewer people testing positive for coronavirus is a good thing, as it shows Washington is on the other end of the fifth wave. It’s the future doctors say they are worried about.

“I feel better right this minute that the hospitalizations are starting to go down. However in late June, early July, we would not have predicted we’re going to get the worse, we’re going to be in the worse shape ever, ” Cassie Sauer with the Washington Hospital Association said.

Doctors say the best thing people can do to help the hospitals is to get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine. People can even get them at the same time if they want as it is safe. They say it’s also important to continue masking up and keep gatherings small, especially as people will start gathering indoors for the winter.

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