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Updates for March 29, 2020: King County hospitals adapt to significant pressures from COVID-19

Summary

King County hospitals are seeing significant pressures as the number of COVID-19 cases increase. Public Health estimates 82 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the estimated case count in King County to 2159. In addition, five new deaths are reported, bringing the estimated total of deaths in King County to 141.

Story

King County hospitals adapt to significant pressures from COVID-19

The Northwest Healthcare Response Network (NWHRN) tracks information on hospital capacity in our region. The NWHRN is reporting that hospitals in King County are maintaining available hospital capacity but also seeing significant impacts on hospital operations as the number of COVID-19 cases increases. Hospitals have taken multiple steps to meet the demand related to care of COVID-19 cases and are trying to adapt operations in the face of reduced PPE resources and other challenges to their operations.

The unprecedented steps our hospitals have taken are helping ensure hospital and ICU bed and ventilator capacity remain available in the region at this time. Hospitals have responded to the increase in patients with COVID-19 and COVID-like illnesses by using surge strategies, such as postponing elective and non-emergency procedures, bringing in additional staff, and increasing the number of hospital beds. Other innovative changes to managing healthcare needs while decreasing opportunities for transmission of COVID-19 include drive-through clinics and telehealth.

Hospitals are continuing to find ways to maximally conserve limited supplies of PPE, to protect and care for front line health care teams, to use space efficiently, and to support each other by sharing resources across the region. Their close collaboration with each other, the Northwest Healthcare Response Network, as well as Public Health and the state, has made it possible to meet the need today while preparing for a potential much greater challenge in coming weeks or months.

Given this strain on the healthcare system, Public Health reminds everyone to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to preserve the emergency room for critical health needs. Do not go to the emergency room unless you are having an immediate medical emergency. People who receive a positive test result for COVID-19 should not go the emergency room unless they are experiencing severe symptoms (such as difficulty breathing) that require hospitalization. Less severe symptoms can be treated at home.

Case updates

Cases reported today are an approximation. Case numbers draw from a Washington State Department of Health database that is in the process of being updated. We expect to have an official count tomorrow.

Public Health—Seattle & King County is reporting the following estimated cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/28/20.

  • 2,159 estimated positive cases (up 82 from yesterday)
  • 141 estimated deaths (up 5 from yesterday)

Important note: With the launch of a new data dashboard (www.kingcounty.gov/covid/data), Public Health will no longer be listing individual deaths by age and gender in our News Release. Detailed information about demographics of those who died from COVID-19 is available on the dashboard. Be sure to click the button to filter by "positive results only" to see age and gender of deaths. A PDF is also available.

Isolation and quarantine facilities update

Isolation and quarantine is a proven public health practice for reducing the spread of disease. Examples of people who may need this assistance include people who cannot safely isolate from a family member who is elderly or medically fragile, or people experiencing homelessness. Individuals can only be placed into the King County sites after a health professional with Public Health—Seattle & King County has determined that they need isolation or quarantine.

Thirteen people are currently staying in King County isolation and quarantine facilities.

The number of people at King County's isolation and quarantine sites will be included in regular updates provided by Public Health. No other identifying or personal information will be provided.