Coronavirus, COVID, Hospitals

King County hospitals issue urgent call to action: ‘We Need your Help’

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King County — In the midst of the omicron variant surge, King County hospitals and healthcare partners are issuing an urgent plea to the public to help reduce pressure on hospitals so they can provide essential care for those who need it.

While there are promising signs with cases on the decline the past few days, King County hospitals are still under tremendous strain from increased hospitalizations, staff shortages and difficulty discharging patients who no longer need care. In the previous month, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased over 700 percent from 8 to 70 people hospitalized each day.

“The sheer number of patients means hospital acute care and ICUs across the state are very full. Hospitals are doing everything they can with critical staffing levels to provide care in the most challenging situation we’ve seen to date,” Washington State Hospital Association President & Chief Executive Officer Cassie Sauer said. “The patients most severely impacted by COVID-19 are almost all unvaccinated and unboosted. If you haven’t yet, please get vaccinated.”

Capacity levels were critical before the current surge with non-COVID care and back-logged surgeries. The surge has exacerbated the situation, making it difficult to provide essential care for non-COVID health concerns.

“We’ve already had to cancel most surgeries — delaying care that would help someone live a better, healthier life,” reads the call-to-action.

With an appeal to act now, the hospitals and health care partners outlined how King County residents can make a difference:

  • Get vaccinated. Many COVID-19 patients in our hospitals are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. Vaccines work extremely well to reduce serious infections. Data from Public Health – Seattle & King County shows the risk of hospitalization and death is far greater compared to those who are fully vaccinated. Vaccines are available at sites throughout King County.
  • If you are vaccinated, get a booster. It’s the best protection against needing to be hospitalized from the omicron variant. Everyone ages 12 and older should get a booster dose.
  • Upgrade your mask. If available, use an N95, KN95, KF94 or surgical mask. Wear the most protective mask you can and make sure that it fits well.
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces. Gatherings will be safer in well-ventilated spaces.
  • Save the ER for emergencies. Do not go to the Emergency Room for treatment of mild illness or for COVID-19 testing.
  • Do not delay routine healthcare visits. Talk to your primary care provider about routine medical care to help avoid needing more advanced medical care in the future.
  • The call-to-action will be distributed as an ad in the Seattle Times Jan. 23, 2022 Sunday edition. It is signed by

    MultiCare Health System, Overlake Medical Center & Clinics, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle Children’s, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, Swedish, UW Medicine, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, Public Health – Seattle & King County, and the Washington State Hospital Association.

For more information on actions to help manage the spread of coronavirus and keep each other safe, access to vaccine, and testing resources, visit Public Health’s COVID resources page.