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Throughout April, COVID-19 transmission has increased significantly in Ferry and Stevens Counties. These recent cases have led to a higher number of people hospitalized with serious illness related to COVID-19.
On April 28, 92 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in regional hospitals (includes hospitals in Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Kootenai (ID), and Spokane Counties). Of these people, 26 were in ICU. Only two weeks prior, these numbers were significantly reduced: 51 people were hospitalized and 10 were in ICU.
Though current hospitalization rates remain below what regional hospitals experienced in late 2020, hospitals are currently offering elective procedures and are caring for individuals with illnesses unrelated to COVID-19, both of which reduce capacity for treating COVID positive patients. When COVID-19 transmission increases and people become ill and are subsequently hospitalized, the medical systems and hospitals upon which we all rely are put under difficult strain. This strain can lead to suspension of services such as elective procedures, which is what occurred in late 2020.
Not only do high volumes of COVID-related hospitalizations directly impact those who are ill and the medical system providing care, but these elevated numbers can also impact all Washington counties in the Roadmap to Recovery. If statewide ICU capacity reaches 90%, all counties will move back one phase. Of the ICU beds available statewide, 79.5% were occupied on April 26. In the Eastern region, which includes Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Spokane, Lincoln, Adams, Whitman, Garfield, and Asotin Counties, 80.6% of ICU beds were occupied.
One way to reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations is through vaccination. COVID-19 vaccination reduces illness and resulting hospitalization. According to a real-world study completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are 94% effective at preventing hospitalizations among fully vaccinated adults over 65 years old.
Prior to widespread vaccination availability, individuals ages 65 and older made up a significant proportion of COVID-19 positive cases in Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens Counties. For example, of the 210 active cases between January 7 and January 20, 82 cases were age 60 or older. Of the 254 active cases on April 27, only 53 were age 60 or older.
It is critical that we reduce COVID-19 transmission in our communities and ensure that everyone can receive the medical care they need, regardless of whether the care is related to COVID-19. In order to do this, we must work together and take the precautions we know work. These precautions include: