Virus: Hospitalized patients in Washington state higher than early reports

Virus: Hospitalized patients in Washington state higher than early reports, April 9 2020

About 1,000 patients in Washington state hospitals have confirmed or suspected diagnoses of coronavirus, according to a new count that shows earlier surveys had undercounted such admissions.

The Seattle Times reports that Washington State Hospital Association statistics, current as of April 7, include 664 confirmed and another 331 suspected cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus. About half of the cases are in King County hospitals.

Cassie Sauer, the association’s executive director, said the updated count is from a new statewide reporting system that went into place on April 2.

This new system is more accurate than earlier surveys done in March, Sauer said, which counted weekly admissions of patients with COVID-19-like symptoms but did not track total patient counts. Those earlier surveys counted only 193 hospitalizations for the seven-day period that ended March 28, another 251 patients for the week of March 21 and 226 patients for the week ending March 7.

Sauer cautioned that the new numbers did not include all state hospitals and that the association staff continues to review the information to ensure it is being correctly reported.

The Seattle area saw the country’s first coronavirus outbreak, and so far there are more than 9,000 confirmed cases and nearly 421 deaths in Washington. Authorities say the new hospitalization numbers, although higher than the earlier counts, still roughly track with models showing Washington is flattening the curve of the coronavirus, and that hospitalizations statewide may have peaked. And Sauer, as well as state officials, note that if the COVID-19 patient counts do surge higher, there still is capacity in the Washington hospital system to treat people.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday decided to return to the federal government the field hospital set up about a week ago in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Event Center to help the health care system cope with what was expected to be an influx of patients.

Most people with the virus experience mild or moderate fever and coughing for two to three weeks. Some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can face severe illness including pneumonia and death.