Washington seeing massive decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations since mid-March

SPOKANE, Wash.– There are 15 people hospitalized in Spokane County because of COVID-19.

Right now, hospital visits are the best way to figure out how the virus is evolving.

Testing has been shaky across the state, so sometimes a smaller rise in confirmed cases doesn’t tell us the whole story.

But, a hospital visit shows us how severe it is.

A state report tells us those hospital visits are going down. In mid-March there were more than 400 people in the hospital with coronavirus-like symptoms.

Now, that number is less than 100, and you can see the decline in this graph from the state below.

But, social distancing is still critical in slowing this spread across the state, especially with warmer weather in the forecast.

“I want everybody to get outside, but by the same token what I don’t want to see happening is people sort of lessening up on the social distancing,” Dr. Bob Lutz said.

A state report also showed us fewer people used an ambulance in March than expected.

Just 10 percent of people with known cases of COVID-19 need hospital care. 31 percent won’t need to be hospitalized at all, and the state doesn’t have data on the other 59 percent yet.

That’s why the CDC recommends wearing a mask.

“A mask is an important piece for you to be telling people in your community that you care about them,” Lutz said.

In Spokane County, there are 227 coronavirus cases, and that’s five more than Monday’s numbers.

It’s an encouraging sign, but that number may be lower because of testing results lacking statewide.

That’s why Dr. Lutz thinks we’re not over the curve just yet.

“I am encouraged by the fact that the numbers have been lessened than what we saw last week, but nonetheless we are still seeing increases,” Lutz said.

Even as statewide cases decline, Washington is still preparing.

The state will spend $37 million dollars on N95 masks, $17 million on ventilators, and $35 million on other protective gear and sanitation supplies.

Washington is also expected to receive 15 rapid-testing machines from FEMA. The machines are supposed to process results within 13 minutes.

And as numbers go down in western Washington, some rural communities in eastern Washington are expecting an increase of cases.

Now they’re getting some help to deal with that as Grant County just received 100 testing kits and another 200 went to Adams County.

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