COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise in Washington, especially in young people

The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) is expressing concern about the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hospitalizations declined in January and February and flattened in March, but doctors are now seeing an increase in hospitalizations.

As of Monday morning, 44 hospitals in the state reported more than 600 hospitalizations, which is the most Washington has seen in months

"This looks like the same trajectory we saw in November. It's very, very worrisome," said Cassie Sauer, CEO of WSHA.

The highly contagious B117 variant is driving the number of cases and doctors say more and more young people are being hospitalized with the virus.

"The younger population has pandemic fatigue. They're not wearing their mask or social distancing," said Dr. Josh Griggs, the Chief Quality Officer at Skagit Regional Health.

Another concern is that doctors say demand for the vaccine didn't increase after eligibility opened up for adults 16 and up on April 15. They are urging everyone to not be skeptical of the vaccine, saying the benefits of it far outweigh the risks.

"It's a civic duty at this point to get vaccinated. It's just one of the things you do, it's a courtesy to the rest of the world," said Griggs.

Officials say 17,000 first-dose vaccinations will become available Tuesday through May 3 at the City of Seattle's four vaccination sites.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says if demand remains high and all appointments are taken, Seattle could lead the nation and reach community immunity by the end of May.

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