While COVID hospitalizations have declined in recent weeks, the death rate has not yet seen a similar trend in Washington.

There are still 15 to 20 deaths due to COVID-19 reported daily in Washington.

“It feels to me like the world has sort of moved on from COVID deaths, and to me it’s worth noting what a tragedy it is,” Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, told reporters Monday.

Declines in COVID hospitalizations have started to slow down in the last week, Sauer said.

At the peak of the delta surge, Washington hospitals were treating more than 1,700 COVID patients. As of Sunday, there were 1,193 patients hospitalized in Washington for the coronavirus.

In previous weeks, there was a 10% decline in hospitalized COVID patients, but this past week there was just a 2% decline, Sauer said.

One reason for the decline in COVID patients is due to the amount of people dying from the virus, Sauer said.

More treatment options for COVID-19 could arrive later this year, as Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their antiviral pill used to treat high-risk COVID patients in clinical trials.

The trials found that molnupiravir, a pill, reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 50% in patients who were at higher risk of severe COVID or hospitalization.

Pfizer and BioNTech also asked the FDA for emergency use authorization to approve a smaller dose of their COVID-19 vaccine for use in 5- to 11-year-olds. The FDA as well as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will both need to approve of the vaccine before it is administered nationwide.

The state Department of Health is preparing to receive shipments of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine, which will be in different vials and at a smaller dose than the vaccine approved for those who are 12 years old and older.

Local health districts did not report new case counts or hospitalizations on Monday due to offices being closed for the Indigenous Peoples Day holiday.

Kootenai Health is treating 134 COVID patients, with 37 requiring critical care. That is fewer patients than the hospital was treating last week when numbers peaked at the Coeur d’Alene hospital.

Arielle Dreher’s reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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