Health officials are raising concerns about a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Washington due to the spread of the delta variant.

The state Department of Health on Tuesday reported 600 hospitalizations statewide — a 20% increase since last week. An average of 1,500 new daily cases have been reported over the past four days and the percent of positive tests has climbed to 5.5%, up from 2% a month ago.

Hospital occupancy is at the highest levels seen so far in 2021, DOH said in a news release, citing increased COVID-19 transmission, patient demand and hospital staffing challenges.

‘Every hospital is quite full’ in Washington as delta variant of coronavirus spreads

The extremely transmissible delta variant now makes up roughly 76% of sequenced cases, according to DOH. More than 94% of all cases, deaths and hospitalizations for those 12 and older have been linked to individuals who were not fully vaccinated.

While not 100% effective, DOH said vaccines have proven to provide strong protection against variants, prevent severe illness and hospitalizations and lower risk of death.


“If there was ever a time to get vaccinated, it is now in the race against this variant,” DOH Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said in a statement.

Hospitals’ tightening capacity pushed the Washington State Hospital Association board last week to pass a resolution urging all hospitals in the state to require vaccinations for their health care workers. King County’s public health leaders issued the same guidance for health care workers in the county.

Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this story.