Cowlitz County’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate has been declining and may be leveling off after a spike in late June, but is still above the state average.
The county recorded 20.8 per 100,000 hospitalizations June 18-24, more than double the state average at the time. That rate dropped to 11.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 from June 26 to July 2.
PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center had 12 COVID-19 patients as of Monday afternoon. That number has remained fairly stable over the past few weeks, rising and falling back to the same level, said Debra Carnes, spokeswoman for PeaceHealth. The hospital has not seen an increase in COVID-19 patients in intensive care, she said.
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The total number of patients in the hospital, including those in the emergency department, has remained high in recent months, Carnes said.
“We recognize that no one wants to have long waits when they come to the ER, but we need to prioritize those with the most pressing and urgent medical needs,” Carnes wrote in an email. “We strongly recommend that patients requiring treatment for minor medical conditions contact their primary care physician or consider visiting an emergency center.”
Nationwide, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate has increased over the past month but could level out, with new admissions from June 26 through July 2 slightly higher than the county’s rate at about 10 per 100,000.
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The state’s seven-day death rate has been rising since this spring but remains below the average of 1 per 100,000 in early June.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in Cowlitz County rose from three in April to six in May and two in June, according to the county health department. The county has recorded 354 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of July 5.
Cowlitz County’s COVID-19 cases may level off after a slow increase over the past month with 176.5 new cases per 100,000 people from June 26 to July 2. That’s an increase of 122.2 cases per 100,000 from May 26 to June 1.
Nationwide, the number of cases has remained fairly unchanged in the past month at around 246 per 100,000 inhabitants. Earlier this month, state health officials said recorded case numbers likely accounted for only about 10% of actual infections because many people aren’t getting tested or doing testing at home.
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Cowlitz County is one of 19 Washington counties classified as medium-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seven counties, including Clark, are classified as high-risk and the remaining 13 as low-risk.
CDC risk levels are updated weekly and are based on the seven-day case rate, the new COVID-19 hospitalization rate, and the proportion of hospital beds occupied by virus patients. The agency recommends everyone in high-risk counties wear a mask indoors, and those at high risk of serious illness should do so in moderate-risk counties.