Officials: COVID filling hospital beds statewide while vaccine newcomers come around

Health officials are sounding the alarm, saying critical care beds across the state of Washington are filling up faster than it ever has since the beginning of the pandemic. 

State hospital officials say with the combination of the new variant and unvaccinated populations driving new infection rates, some healthcare workers are calling it quits. 

At Pharm-A-Save in Monroe, healthcare professionals say they saw a surge of people seeking the vaccine when emergency use was authorized, but they also saw a steady decline around June. 

"Some people just took a step back and said ‘wait, I’m going to wait this out,’" said owner Bridgett Edgar.

That’s how some of Pharm-A-Save customers felt about getting the vaccine when it first came out. But fast forward to this month, and Edgar says now they are seeing an uptick in those seeking the jab.

"In the last two weeks, we saw a steady change of people who hadn’t decided. They’re coming in and saying, ‘we’re going to get vaccinated,’" she said.

Health professionals time and again say getting the vaccine is the way out of this pandemic and they are repeating that same message today. 

Cassie Sauer from the Washington State Hospital Association revealed during a press call on Thursday that hospitals across our state are seeing more and more people needing serious medical attention due to COVID. 

"The highest was December with 1,100 patients, now there are 1,200 as of this morning," she said. "It may be slowing down a tiny bit, we don’t know if that’s a trend but it’s a huge concern."

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

By and large, hospitals are filling up with patients who have not vaccinated. Plus, many nurses and healthcare workers are also finding it hard to continue in the industry - especially as they see protests and demonstrations against basic health guidance designed to halt the growth of new infections driving a surge in hospitalizations.

Plus, hospitals geared towards kids are also seeing their staffing stretched as patients fill the rooms. 

"Staff members are burned out," said Dr. George Diaz from Providence Regional Medical Center. 

"Patients are sicker than previous waves and need mechanical ventilation," said Dr. Danielle Zerr from Seattle Children’s.

Back at Pharm-A-Save, they’ve been offering third doses for a week. And like before, they’re here to provide guidance for those who decide they want to get started or continue their path towards full vaccination.

"If you want a vaccine, we’ll help you out and answer questions," said Edgar. "If you don’t, that’s your choice."

Not only are hospitals pushing back non-emergency surgeries to make room for COVID patients, but they’re also telling people on the organ donation waiting list if they don’t get vaccinated, it’s possible they’ll be taken off as they want recipients to have the greatest chance of a successful transplant. 

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