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Gov. Inslee asks for federal medical personnel to support Washington hospitals

Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to a federal COVID-19 coordinator requesting staffing resources to support Washington hospitals, many of which are over capacity.

WASHINGTON — Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter on Monday to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients requesting federal staffing sources to support the Washington health care system in response to the increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

In the letter sent to Zients, Inslee requested federal staffing resources, including clinical and non-clinical staff to help Washington state meet staffing needs in hospitals and in long-term care facilities. 

"Once the Delta variant hit Washington state, COVID-19 hospitalizations skyrocketed. From mid-July to late August, we saw hospitalizations double about every two weeks," Inslee wrote in the letter. "The hospitals have surged to increase staffed beds and stretch staff and have canceled most non-urgent procedures, but are still over capacity across the state."

As of Monday, the Washington State Department of Health has requested 1,200 clinical and non-clinical staff through the General Services Administration contracting process offered through FEMA, according to the letter.

Inslee requested in the letter the deployment of Department of Defense medical personnel to assist with the current hospital crisis. 

"In announcing the COVID-19 Action Plan, the President indicated that more clinical teams would be available. That assistance will be of significant value in Washington state," Inslee wrote in the letter. 

Inslee said in some states in the U.S. COVID-19 infections have decreased but Washington is the exception.

"Washington State has historically lagged the country in previous COVID-19 waves, and the same pattern is playing out with the enormous impact we are seeing from the Delta variant."

Inslee's office said the governor is not considering reactivating the Washington National Guard to reduce the burden on hospitals but he could take additional steps on vaccines if the stress remains too high.