In the midst of the Omicron surge in COVID-19, King County hospitals issued an urgent call in the Sunday, Jan. 23 edition of The Seattle Times to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The full-page ad, signed by health system and public health partners across King County, calls on the public to help reduce pressure on hospitals so they can provide essential care for those who need it.
While there are promising signs with cases on the decline the past few days, the impacts to hospitals have not let up. In the previous month, hospitalizations increased over 700% from 8 to 70 people hospitalized each day.
The healthcare system is under tremendous strain from increased COVID-19 hospitalizations, staff shortages and difficulty discharging patients who no longer need care.
“The sheer number of patients means acute care and ICUs across the state remain full, and hospitals are doing everything they can with critical staffing levels to try and provide care in the most challenging situation we’ve seen to date,” said Cassie Sauer, Chief Executive Officer, Washington State Hospital Association.
Capacity levels were critical before the current surge with non-COVID care and back-logged surgeries. The current surge has exacerbated the situation making it difficult to provide essential care for non-COVID health concerns.
“We’ve already had to cancel most surgeries — delaying care that would help someone live a better, healthier life,” reads the message Sunday’s Seattle Times.
The ad calls out the continued importance of getting vaccinated and boosted if eligible. Vaccines are working extremely well to reduce serious infections. Data from Public Health – Seattle & King County shows the risk of hospitalization and death is far higher compared to those who are fully vaccinated.
Everyone ages 12 and older should get a booster dose and vaccine is available at sites throughout King County.
With an appeal to act now, the hospitals, Washington State Hospital Association and Public Health emphasize steps King County residents can take to make a difference:
Get vaccinated. Many COVID-19 patients in our hospitals are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.
If you are vaccinated, get a booster. It’s the best protection against needing to be hospitalized from the omicron variant.
Upgrade your mask. If available, use an N95, KN95, KF94 or surgical mask. Wear the most protective mask you can and make sure that it fits well.
Avoid crowded indoor spaces. Gatherings will be safer in well-ventilated spaces.
Save the ER for emergencies. Do not go to the Emergency Room for treatment of mild illness or for COVID-19 testing.
Do not delay routine healthcare visits. Talk to your primary care provider about routine medical care to help avoid needing more advanced medical care in the future.
For more information on actions to help manage the spread of coronavirus and keep each other safe, access to vaccine, and testing resources, visit Public Health’s COVID resources page.