Hospitalizations of patients with coronavirus-like symptoms drop 20 percent in Washington state

Hospitalizations for Washington state residents showing symptoms of coronavirus dropped this week for the first time since February.

The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that data released by the state's Department of Health showed a decline in hospitalizations for symptoms of the virus, including pneumonia and shortness of breath, dropped to 193 after sitting at 251 last week.

Health officials cautioned that the data may not be perfect, as it does not count hospitalizations at 16 percent of the state's emergency rooms.

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“We have seen an increase in volume of COVID-19 patients but fortunately at a slower rate than we anticipated, which is great,” Dr. Douglas Wood, chair of University of Washington Medicine’s surgery department, told the Times in an interview. “We have enough surgical masks to do our job. But we have to anticipate tomorrow.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health added that the statistic was a "little bit of good news" for the state, which has seen more than 4,800 cases of the disease and nearly 200 deaths.

One health official representing Seattle and King counties told the Times that if “we don’t continue to comply with these measures ... the outbreak will come roaring back, big time.”

"We believe that we’re making a very positive impact on the course of this epidemic,” the official, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, added to the newspaper.

“That the measures we put in place appear to be working and ... the number of deaths that we are seeing are likely to be significantly less than we would have experienced without these important measures.”