Clark County reported a surge in hospital admissions this week as the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to push new cases to unprecedented highs.
The rate of new hospital admissions increased significantly this week, rising to 19.2 per 100,000 residents over seven days, up from 11.8 last week, according to Public Health data, an increase of 62.7 percent. Two weeks ago, new hospital admissions were at seven per 100,000 residents over seven days.
As of Tuesday, 97.4 percent of Clark County’s hospital beds and 98.2 percent of its ICU beds were occupied. Hospitals reported that 103 beds — accounting for 20.8 percent of hospital beds and 33.9 percent of ICU beds — were occupied by people with or suspected of having COVID-19.
“We are working with our health care partners to try to relieve some of that stress,” said Dr. Steven Krager, deputy health officer with Clark County Public Health. “Any way that we can help them discharge patients to long-term care facilities, we’re trying to work with them on that. And we may have to get creative soon.”
According to Krager, as cases skyrocket, hospitals could soon reach crisis levels of care.
“That’s another way of saying rationing, where we have to think about some people getting care and other people not,” Krager said. “We desperately do not want to enter that situation. But it’s certainly a possibility. We’re trying to do everything we can to avoid that.”
Representatives from PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and Legacy Salmon Creek were unavailable for an comment Thursday.
Sixteen new deaths were reported in Clark County this week. The deaths include one man in his 40s, one woman in her 50s, three men and two women in their 60s, two men and one woman in their 70s and two men and four women age 80 or older, according to information released Thursday by Clark County Public Health.
To date, 639 people have died from COVID-19 in Clark County. Deaths are added to the county’s total 10 to 12 days after they occur.
The COVID-19 activity rate, which measures new cases per 100,000 population over 14 days, increased from 1,679.1 per 100,000 last week to 2,205.9 as of Thursday. Any rate higher than 200 is considered high by health officials.
Public Health reported a total of 9,651 new cases this week. The number of new cases rose by 57.6 percent over last week’s total, with 8,030 confirmed by molecular testing, for 58,603 to date, and 1,621 using antigen testing, for 9,429.
Combined, the new cases work out to an average of about 1,379 new cases per day, up from about 874 new cases per day last week.
The actual number of new cases is likely even higher due to unreported at-home tests, according to Clark County Public Health officials.
The number of active cases still in their isolation period decreased to 6,039 this week, down from 6,110 last week, according to Public Health.
The Washington Department of Health reported that as of Jan. 14, 67.7 percent of Clark County residents age 12 or older were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While breakthrough cases are occurring due to the highly contagious omicron variant, getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect yourself from severe symptoms, according to Public Health officials. Hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 occur disproportionately among the unvaccinated, according to Public Health data.