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Roughly 3,000 hospital workers lost jobs over Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The deadline for Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 vaccine mandate was Oct. 18.

SEATTLE — About 94% of Washington’s hospital staff is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 following the state’s vaccine mandate, according to the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA).

About 2% were non-compliant with the mandate, meaning the health care system lost about 3,000 workers.

The other 4% of hospital workers have either been approved for exemptions or are on leave until they are considered fully vaccinated.

Despite the relatively high vaccination rate among staff, WSHA CEO Cassie Sauer said many rural hospitals had much lower vaccination rates among their workers.

This, along with continued burnout for workers, has put additional strain on these facilities. Sauer said WSHA is happy to be in talks with state government and Gov. Jay Inslee’s office on ways to invest more in the health care workforce.

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Sauer also said that additional funding could open more spots in the state’s health care programs to train more workers at a time.

“We continue in our state to turn away hundreds of and maybe thousands of qualified applicants to health care programs for lack of space,” she explained.

As of Monday morning, 865 COVID-19 patients are in Washington hospitals. The number, while still remarkable, is a 12% decline from 968 last week and an even more significant decline from 1,087 last month.

The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators also went down about 20% to 120 across the state.

COVID-19 cases have mostly been on the decline since the beginning of October after spiking to record highs in August and September.

However, death rates have not continued to drop as significantly, with about 15 Washingtonians dying from the virus every day. That’s about 105 people a week or 450 people a month.

As of Nov. 10, roughly 61% of all Washingtonians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.