Western WA COVID cases trending down, Eastern WA still rising, health officials say

COVID-19 cases in Western Washington are trending down, as cases in Eastern Washington and Idaho have yet to hit their peak, health officials said Tuesday.

In a briefing Tuesday, leaders with the Washington State Hospital Association said they are still straining under a surge in COVID hospitalizations fueled by the omicron variant.

"Last week was extremely rough for anyone who needed care," said WSHA executive vice president Taya Briley.

Last week, King County hospitals issued a call to action, urging people to get vaccinated and boosted, as they neared the breaking point of their capacity. That has not changed, health officials stress, but the situation is only worsening east of the mountains.

"It’s a well-worn trend," said Briley. "We know 90% of hospitalizations and deaths are preventable with a vaccine."

COVID hospitalizations in Western Washington spiked 700% in a single month – going from around eight to 70 people hospitalized per day. Almost all the patients are unvaccinated.

In Eastern Washington, the highest-ever record for COVID infections in a single day in Spokane, 719 in Dec. 2020, has been shattered almost daily in January of this year; 816 cases on Jan. 8, 788 on Jan. 12, 1,322 on Jan. 15, climbing to an unprecedented 1,577 new cases on Jan. 21.

North Idaho, likewise, has seen closer to a sustained wave of high COVID infections, falling from a pandemic record of 482 new cases in Dec. 2020 to a generally consistent average of around 200-400 daily cases since Sep. 2021.

"We’re doing a lot of work helping our community understand what they can do to help us," said Virginia Mason senior VP, Charleen Tachibana.

In the meantime, WSHA’s advice has not changed: do not come to the ER if you are not having an emergency, do not delay routine health visits, get your boosters and upgrade your face mask.

RELATED: 'We need your help'; King Co. hospitals at breaking point for capacity

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