Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Washington State, Original Virus Hot Spot, Sees Significant Downturn in COVID Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations in Washington state of patients with symptoms of the novel coronavirus have declined over 20 percent in the past week.
A state Department of Health survey showed there were 193 patient admissions showing symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath from March 22-28, down from 251 admissions the week before, The Seattle Times reported.
These numbers also mark the end of a month-long rise in COVID-19 hospital admissions in Washington, which once was the epicenter of the disease in the United States.
“It’s a little bit of good news,” DOH spokeswoman Amy Reynolds said.
The Seattle Times pointed out that the survey is currently incomplete because it does not include reporting from 16 percent of hospital emergency rooms and may not include patients who have the disease but not all the symptoms.
There have been indications that social distancing efforts taken throughout the state and country are significantly helping slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Institute for Disease Modeling analyzed Facebook data that tracks changes in mobility and found that people are actually spending more at home and less time in commercial areas.
The group found that although the epidemic has slowed in King County, Washington, more progress is needed to steadily reduce COVID-19 transmission.
“The result is greatly encouraging for the people of King County, however compliance with social distancing policies has not been steady (as evidenced by increased mobility over weekends), and thus progress is precarious,” the report read.
Despite the drop in hospitalizations, Washington hospitals and health care workers are wary of a possible surge in cases in April, The Seattle Times reported.
“We have seen an increase in volume of COVID-19 patients but fortunately at a slower rate than we anticipated, which is great,” said Dr. Doughlas Wood, chair of the University of Washington Medicine’s surgery department.
“We have enough surgical masks to do our job. But we have to anticipate tomorrow.”
University of Washington analysis projects that Washington state will reach its peak of hospital resource use on April 15.
However, even though social distancing precautions seem to be working, the analysis estimates over 83,000 people could die in the United States from COVID-19 by the first of July, 1,600 of them in Washington state.
“The trajectory of the pandemic will change — dramatically for the worse — if people ease up on social distancing or relax other precautions,” UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Director Dr. Christopher Murray said to The Seattle Times.
Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, had a similar warning on Monday.
“We believe that we’re making a very positive impact on the course of this epidemic,” Duchin told The Seattle Times.
“That the measures we put in place appear to be working and … the number of deaths that we are seeing are likely to be significantly less than we would have experienced without these important measures.”
He added, “[If] we don’t continue to comply with these measures … I can tell you that the outbreak will come roaring back, big time.”

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