WENATCHEE — Two more people have died from COVID-19 in Chelan County, and the number of people hospitalized continues to grow.
The people who died were a woman in her 90s and a man in his 70s, according to information provided Monday by the Chelan-Douglas Health District. The last reported death was Wednesday. Chelan County has now had 31 deaths from COVID-19, Douglas County has had seven deaths.
The Wenatchee Valley now has 45 people hospitalized with COVID-19 at Central Washington Hospital, according to data from the health district. It is up from 40 as of Dec. 9.
The hospital can create more bed space, but the problem is that staff is already overworked and stretched thin, said Dr. Jason Lake, Confluence Health chief medical officer. The hospital has 50 to 60 open nursing positions and staff are quitting as they get burned out from working overtime.
The hospital on Wednesday started diverting new intensive care patients to other hospitals, he said. It also has canceled all non-emergency medical procedures that would require an overnight stay.
The problem with the hospital being full is it limits resources for people experiencing other kinds of medical emergencies from broken limbs to heart attacks and strokes, said Dr. Malcolm Butler, Chelan-Douglas Health Officer.
The next steps are to cancel all elective surgeries and procedures and start using the staff for those procedures to take care of COVID-19 patients, Lake said. The hospital is nearing using staff in positions and roles that they are not accustomed to doing.
The rate of COVID-19 infection in Chelan and Douglas counties is at the highest it has ever been, 1,017.2 per 100,000 people over a two-week period, according to health district data. In the past two weeks, 1,204 people have tested positive for COVID-19.