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UW postpones elective surgeries amid rising COVID cases due to omicron variant

The postponement is in an effort to protect the hospital's staff and patients as western Washington sees a sharp increase in cases, UW Medicine said in a statement.

SEATTLE — UW Medicine is postponing elective surgeries and procedures due to rising COVID-19 cases in western Washington, the hospital announced this week.

The postponement is in an effort to protect the hospital's staff and patients, UW Medicine said in a statement.

Elective surgeries and procedures will be postponed through Friday, Jan. 14, 2022.

The postponement comes amid a sharp increase in cases due to the omicron variant. The state saw a record daily number of cases on Christmas Eve with more than 6,200 people testing positive for the virus.

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Experts fear hospitalizations will soon follow the trend with an already strained health care system that is overflowing in some areas. Already, the state saw daily hospitalizations increase by more than 200 patients in the last week. Statewide COVID-19 hospital occupancy went from 610 on Dec. 20 to 832 on Dec. 28.

UW Medicine also announced a change to its COVID-19 testing sites this week.

Starting Jan. 4, 2022, UW Medicine will limit COVID-19 testing appointments to people who are experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness or those who have a known positive exposure to the virus, Dr. Geoff Baird, the chair of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said Thursday.

Additionally, the hospital is updating its visitor policy amid the rise in cases. Beginning Monday, Jan 3, 2022, patients may only have one visitor for one hour during visiting hours.

Patients are encouraged to use telehealth services in lieu of in-person appointments, especially for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms like cough, fever, chills or loss of taste or smell. Schedule a telehealth appointment by calling 206-520-5000. 

The hospital asks any upcoming visitors to check its website at uwmedicine.org for any following updates.