The first case of COVID-19 was a 35-year-old resident returning from Wuhan, China, and was confirmed on January 21, 2020, although unconfirmed cases of the virus were thought to exist as far back as December 2019. The first death in the state occurred at Evergreen Health Medical Center on February 29, with Governor Jay Inslee declaring a state of emergency as a result.
Early efforts to expand COVID-19 related healthcare services included a March 5 announcement by Governor Inslee that the state would cover COVID-19 testing costs for residents without health insurance. Additionally, the state issued an emergency order to health insurers requiring them to waive copays and deductibles for testing.
Actions to control the virus continued in March, with the government beginning to prepare a soccer field in Shoreline for an emergency field hospital to house 200 beds for COVID-19 patients and a statewide stay-at-home order announced on March 23 that lasted through May. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to create a military field hospital in the state which was expected to expand inpatient capacity for non-COVID-19 patients. In late June, the state started to require masking for all individuals in public spaces.
Despite the early actions of the government, the sharp increase in positive COVID-19 cases in November 2020 had state health officials worried about the capacity to care for patients, warning that “if the current coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates continue on their upward climb, Washington state hospitals could soon be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients”.
COVID-19 cases are predicted to increase significantly across the country until a vaccine is made available to the public. In these unprecedented times, it’s important for Washington doctors to protect themselves now with comprehensive medical malpractice insurance.