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Washington State Hospital Association CEO: ‘COVID is not done with us’

A sticker on the ground reminds people to stay distanced from others in line and wear masks. (MyNorthwest photo)

As of March 22, Washington state has moved forward to Phase 3 and more activities and businesses are allowed to resume or reopen. But Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, warns that this move does not mean the pandemic is over. In fact, patient numbers are climbing again in some areas of the state.

“[Phase 3] doesn’t mean this is over. It doesn’t mean people aren’t still getting really, really sick from this disease,” Sauer said.

“People may be done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us,” she added.

Washington is now in Phase 3 of reopening — here’s what that means

Before Phase 3 hit, Sauer says she was seeing too many people relaxing their pandemic health habits.

The good news is that at least for now, even as COVID cases are rising in parts of Washington state, hospitals still have enough room. That’s in part because doctors know more about keeping COVID patients from becoming gravely ill, and have improved treatment options.

Overlake Medical Center Dr. Amy Markezich says one of the most helpful treatments is made from the blood of COVID survivors.

“There’s also been the development of convalescent plasma, which is plasma donated from people who have recovered from COVID,” she said. “… The treatment options have been constantly changing, and still are changing based on new data.”

“We also are much more familiar with the type of respiratory failure these patients get, and how long a course — if they have to get intubated — how long a course that they might have to be on a ventilator,” she added.

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Dr. Markezich noted that younger patients in their 30s and 40s are not immune from being on a ventilator, needing a tracheotomy, or having long-term effects, even if COVID may not be fatal for them.

She believes new variants and COVID fatigue are key factors driving the state’s current uptick.

“I’m concerned because I’ve admitted or transferred to the ICU more patients with COVID just this last week than I did for all of February,” she said.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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