Health officials concerned about rising COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash.– COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are rising at an alarming rate across Washington.

Back in August, during the state’s last surge, about 500 people were hospitalized at one point for COVID-like symptoms.

But right now, there are nearly 1,100 people in Washington receiving emergency care for the virus.

The Washington Department of Health also told reporters Wednesday the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds across the state has doubled in the last three weeks.

“If we do not reverse this trend, hospitals will need to postpone more of these non-urgent surgeries,” Dr. Kathy Lofy of the Department of Health said.

The next few weeks will be critical for the state.

Washington is about two weeks into its four week order of new restrictions. The Spokane Regional Health District said it’s too early to know if those restrictions are actually working.

Wednesday, 275 people tested positive in Spokane, and that slight dip from prior days is encouraging to health experts.

“It’s not a trend, it’s just a point — but if we continue to see those points in that line, that will become a trend,” said interim county health officer Dr. Frank Velazquez. “The trend will tell us the measurements have been effective.”

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The Health District said it may be another three weeks until the data starts improving, and that’s because of the the expected surge to come from Thanksgiving.

Then there’s the other grim reality of this pandemic — mental health.

The Department of Health said nearly 3 million people in Washington are suffering from symptoms of depression or anxiety.

“Many of those symptoms are related to the social isolation, the changes in lifestyle, unemployment for some and fears around the unknown of what’s happening right now,” an official with the State Department of Health said.

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