UW Medicine postpones non-urgent surgeries due to recent COVID surge

A rising number of COVID cases has led UW Medicine to postpone non-urgent surgeries.

A spokesperson with UW Medicine tells FOX 13 that they have roughly 65 COVID-19 patients between four hospitals.

In a letter to patients, Lisa Brandenburg wrote: "Our physicians and operational teams are reviewing each case and will only reschedule those that can safely be postponed to a later date."

At this time, telehealth visits are being encouraged rather than in-person appointments – especially for those suffering from symptoms of COVID-19 including: cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, gastrointestinal symptoms, headache or runny nose.

The news comes as UW Medicine is prioritizing testing sites for those with symptoms, or known exposure to a person with COVID-19.

Over the past week testing sites were slammed from a rise in demand for tests due to holiday get-togethers, and closures of sites across King, Pierce and Snohomish counties due to winter weather. On top of that, home antigen tests are becoming harder to obtain due to a national shortage.

Despite a crunch in testing appointments, positive test rates have been soaring.

Dr. Geoffrey Bair, chair of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at UW School of Medicine told FOX 13 that a site in Auburn saw a positivity rate of 49-percent recently.

"Which is just astronomically high compared to where we have been in between surges. We have often seen sites across Seattle at 5-10% positive. And at previous peaks we have seen positive rates at 20-25%," said Baird.

As for UW Medicine, visitation is being limited to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Beginning on January 3, 2022, patients will be allowed one visitor for one hour during designated visiting hours. Visitors are required to show proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test within three days of the visit. They will also be required to wear a medical-grade mask at all times.

RELATED: Seattle Public Schools cancels first day of class in 2022 to offer COVID-19 tests

READ MORE: Visitation restrictions in effect at Olympia, Centralia hospitals

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