Hospitals in Washington state issued an urgent plea to the public on Saturday asking residents to do their part and reduce the pressure on health care facilities overwhelmed by the coronavirus.
In a statement released on Saturday, King County hospitals underscored the rapid increase in illness in the state, citing data that hospitalizations were up 700 percent from 8 to 70 people admitted each day.
"The sheer number of patients means hospital acute care and ICUs across the state are very full. Hospitals are doing everything they can with critical staffing levels to provide care in the most challenging situation we've seen to date," Washington State Hospital Association President and CEO Cassie Sauer said in the statement.
Along with capacity issues, hospitals are experiencing a shortage of staff, leading to difficulties getting patients discharged.
"The patients most severely impacted by COVID-19 are almost all unvaccinated and unboosted. If you haven't yet, please get vaccinated," Sauer said.
The group told citizens they needed to get vaccinated, get a booster if they are vaccinated, wear a N95 or KN95 mask and avoid crowded indoor areas, among other things.
The hospital system said that health care facilities were struggling even before the omicron surge as non-COVID-19 related cases were increasing due to postponed surgeries.
The increase in COVID-19 cases is now coupled with the increase in non-coronavirus-related visits, prompting the appeal to the public to do what they can to avoid catching a severe case of COVID-19.
The plea comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the coronavirus booster shots provide strong protection against the omicron variant. The U.S. has continued to see a record number of coronavirus infections in large part due to the spread of the highly transmissible variant.
States across the country have asked the federal government for backup to relieve pressure on hospitals that are at capacity due to the rapid increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations.