Yakima County hospitals exceeding capacity as COVID cases continue to spike

YAKIMA, Wash. — The entire health care system in Yakima County is exceeding capacity, health officials announced Friday.

The Yakima Health District said as of Thursday night, Virginia Mason Memorial had no intensive care or non-intensive care beds available. There were multiple patients waiting for hospital bed space overnight, and this was after at least 17 patients had already been transferred out of the county. Several individuals are still currently waiting for available bed space.

Across Yakima County, there were 61 COVID-19 positive individuals hospitalized, the highest number to date.

Over the past week, all hospitals have reported critical staffing shortages. Many of these shortages are due to staff being out for either having COVID-19, demonstrating COVID-19 symptoms or because they are a close contact to a COVID-19 individual and are now under quarantine.

“Not only do we have the highest rate of COVID-19 infections, but as of last night, Yakima County represented 22% (61 of 242) of all hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Washington State,” the health district said in a news release. “This was more than King County, the most populous county in Washington State.”

Yakima County COVID-19 patients also represented 24% (11 of 46) of all ventilated COVID-19 patients in the state, which is the same as King County.

Nearby, the Benton and Franklin Counties health care system is also reaching capacity.

“Benton and Franklin Counties are seeing a steady, rapid increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, with the number of patients nearly doubling the past two weeks. While hospitals are not overwhelmed yet, if the rate continues, we will exceed capacity quickly,” said Malvina Goodwin with the Benton-Franklin Health District.

Health officials say Yakima County cannot continue to rely on other counties to absorb patients that need additional intensive care.

As of 3 p.m. Friday, Yakima County has already seen an 180-case increase, one of the largest single-day increases of COVID-19 positive cases to date. These numbers will likely be higher when the health district is finish reporting later in the evening.