The coronavirus pandemic is filling hospitals at an "alarming" rate and continuing to strain health care workers, Washington state health officials said Monday.
And for the first time during the pandemic, hospitals are also seeing large numbers of sick pregnant patients, Dr. Tanya Sorensen, the executive medical director of women's health at Swedish Health Services, said. She noted pregnant patients are generally less likely to be vaccinated.
"We're seeing ICU admissions, maternal deaths, babies born prematurely either to help the mother breathe or rescue the baby," she said. "It's really heartbreaking. … Pregnant women need to be vaccinated."
As of Monday morning, the state's hospitals and health care centers were treating 1,570 COVID-19 patients, Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer said.
Of those, 188 are on ventilators. Eleven days ago, the hospital association had counted 1,240 patients with 152 on ventilators.
"It's an enormous stress on a health care system to have this many patients with a single diagnosis," she said. "This doesn't happen. … It's very, very alarming."
The Seattle Times reports as of last week, the state counted 550,988 total infections and 6,507 total deaths, according to the state's Department of Health. About 31.4% of Washington's intensive-care units are filled with COVID-19 patients.
While infection rates among children remain low in comparison, younger COVID-19 patients are also increasing, Dr. Dave Carlson, chief physician officer at MultiCare Health System — which provides care for the greater Pierce County area and Spokane — said during the Monday news conference.
"Kids are getting sick and they're going to get sicker," he said. "And our numbers aren't massive right now, but I am very worried that that could shift if you look at some of the experiences of the children's hospitals in other states."
As of Monday, MultiCare's pediatric hospital was treating five children with COVID-19, including one in its neonatal unit, Carlson said.