County to declare emergency to obtain refrigerated trailer as COVID deaths overwhelm coroner and funeral homes | Health

Statewide, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 continue to rise, with more than 1,600 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday morning, Cassie Sauer, executive director of the Washington State Hospital Association, said at a press briefing. The number of patients on ventilators rose to 251, a jump of 34% from last week, she said.

As of Tuesday morning, PeaceHealth St. John had 41 COVID-19 patients, compared to an average of 48 for Saturday, Sunday and Monday and 62 for Friday. PeaceHealth spokesperson Querin said the hospital hopes the decrease in the number of patients marks the start of a downward trend, but it is difficult to say for sure. He said St. John is not providing the number of patients on ventilators, but confirmed it has enough staff and equipment to meet local demand.

Davidson said he was sending staff to the hospital to “biologically seal” all bodies, even if the patient did not have COVID-19, to protect the coroner and funeral home staff from possible contaminants.

The coroner’s office does not test every body it receives from the hospital for the virus, but many came from COVID-19 units over the weekend, he said.

The coroner does not have jurisdiction over most of the people who died in the hospital, but Davidson said his office was investigating several deaths over the weekend of people with COVID who died at home.

Cowlitz County Superior Court and District Court uphold masking, waive vaccine requirements

All of the deaths the coroner’s office responded to over the weekend were unrelated to COVID-19 and the number of cases the coroner has seen has increased in recent years, Davidson said. The coroner had about 100 more cases in 2020 than in 2019, and this weekend the office had 135 more cases than around the same time last year, he said.

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