The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Washington is doubling every 18 to 19 days, state health officials said at a Department of Health briefing Wednesday morning.
The surge, driven by the delta variant, has “stressed, stretched and strained” hospital resources across the state, Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said.
DOH has documented 5,879 possible vaccine breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in Washington state, but the vast majority of cases involve unvaccinated patients.
More than 94% of COVID-19 patients hospitalized between Feb. 1 and Aug. 3 were not fully vaccinated, Shah said.
The rise in cases is overwhelming hospitals.
Hospitals throughout the state are facing their highest levels of occupancy ever, while struggling with a national shortage of workers, according to Dr. Steve Mitchell, medical director for emergency services at Harborview Medical Center. The impact has been especially hard on regional and rural hospitals where there are no critical care beds left, he said.
That’s had an impact on mortality, as hospitals have spent critical time trying to find scarce beds, Mitchell said.
Youth have been impacted as well as adults, which could be of concern as the school year begins. According to DOH, a young person died of COVID-19 at a Seattle-area hospital on Tuesday.
The death was confirmed by the state’s Chief Science Officer Scott Lindquist during the media briefing on Wednesday.
Lindquist did not share additional information on the patient other than to say they were “between zero and 19,” and that the death was “very disappointing when we have masks and vaccines.”