Elective surgeries getting canceled again as Washington hospitals fill up with rising COVID cases

COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country and in Washington state, particularly as the Delta variant comes in to play. 

Washington has seen half a million COVID cases since the start of the pandemic. In the past week, the state has been averaging nearly 3,000 cases a day, which is the highest it's been since January, according to researchers at John Hopkins University. About a month ago, that number was an average of 665 cases a day. 

With those cases going up, hospitals across the state are once again feeling the pressure when it comes to capacity, and elective surgeries are once again being canceled because of it.

"When people hear that word ‘elective,’ they think it means things like facelifts, and it doesn't. It means something that is not an emergency, so it can be removal of a cancerous tumor or a joint replacement or fixing an aneurysm or fixing a heart valve," Cassie Sauer, the President and CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, explained. 

RELATED: Washington hospitals 'quite full' amid COVID-19 case surge

Because of the surge, the hospital association’s board of directors is urging hospitals and health care providers to require their employees get the vaccine, with very few exceptions, Sauer said last week. 

The Washington State Hospital Association says most of the available hospital beds in Washington are going to COVID patients, most of whom have not been vaccinated. 

The state has reached a 60.02% threshold for fully-vaccinated individuals, according to the latest available data. Over 70% of Washingtonians received at least one shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. 

Health officials continue to call on those who are not vaccinated to get the shots, as the unvaccinated continue to make up nearly all of the new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

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