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Are COVID-19 hospitalizations going up?

We at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department see hospitalization rates increasing in Pierce County.  Recently, nearly twice as many people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as in late August.

Hospitalization increases usually lag behind case increases. This is because not everyone who gets COVID-19 needs hospital care, and it can be a long illness. People may recover at home, then take a turn for the worse, then wind up in the hospital. The number of new cases skyrocketed recently. As the disease spreads, more people with underlying conditions are exposed and could become sick. We could  see more and more people admitted before the rate starts to go down.

The state asks us to track hospitalizations and hospital capacities. You can find those numbers on our data dashboard. These metrics are based on the best available information from outside sources and  help guide conversations with our local hospitals to better understand their occupancy trends and  needs.

Reducing the hospitalization rate is imperative. A rapid rise in COVID-19 cases along with seasonal flu and other health concerns could overwhelm local hospitals and result in a shortage of hospital beds, ventilators, masks and other equipment that severely ill patients need. This happened and is happening in other parts of the country with tragic results.

Today, our hospitals are coping. But we must do everything we can to reduce the latest wave of cases so hospitalizations do not go too much higher.

Northwest Healthcare Response Network helps coordinate regional responses to healthcare emergencies, like COVID-19. Thanks to the relationships developed with members of NWHRN, we have a better understanding of the capacity for hospitals in Pierce County and the surrounding counties to provide care during the pandemic. Thanks to this cooperation, all of Washington will be better off.

Keeping hospitals from being overrun often comes down to three things:

  • Beds.
  • Staff.
  • Resources (gear, medicines, etc.).

If a hospital runs out of any one of these things, its capacity to serve new patients suffers. It might need to divert patients to other facilities, taxing the care capacity of the community.

The hard way or the easier way.

This is your challenge, Pierce County. We know what we have to do to help keep hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and save lives. Step up and show you care.

Do your part to protect yourself and your community. Learn more at

A sign directs people to the Emergency Room outside a hospital