At least 10 long-term care facilities in the Seattle area have reported COVID-19 cases, with deaths at three of them _ a worrying development as health officials have cautioned that the elderly and those with underlying conditions are especially at risk.
Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday outlined a list of requirements for such centers aimed at stopping the worst coronavirus outbreak in the nation. A nursing home in Issaquah and another in Seattle each reported the death of a resident, bringing the total COVID-19 deaths in the state to at least 24. Nineteen of those deaths are tied to a Kirkland nursing home.
King County reported new cases were found in 10 long-term facilities where residents or staff or both have tested positive. The county reported an increase of 74 positive cases since Monday bringing the total to 190. Snohomish County said it had 54 confirmed cases. That brought the statewide total to more than 250, and Inslee said that number is likely much higher.
At a news conference Inslee also said the state is preparing for many more cases than have been reported, potentially tens of thousands, based on estimates of the spread of the disease.
“If we assume there are 1,000 or more people who have the virus today….the number of people who are infected will double in five to eight days,” Inslee said. “If you do the math, it gets very disturbing.”
The state has experienced the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the nation.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In China, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.
The resident of the Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center died over the weekend and five other residents are in quarantine – two onsite and three offsite, the nursing home said. Two staff members also tested positive and are in an offsite quarantine. The center is awaiting results for tests on two other workers.
A man in his 80s who was a resident of Ida Culver House in Seattle was hospitalized at University of Washington Medical Center, and died Monday, King County health officials said.
Inslee said the state is implementing a list of new rules for these long-term care centers. Residents at these facilities will be limited to one visitor a day and they must host them in their rooms. All visitors must sign in and follow precautionary measures like social distancing, he said.
Employees must be screened for symptoms at the start of each shift and the facilities are not allowed to disclose confidential health information, he said.
Employees at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, linked to 19 virus deaths, have finally started getting tested for COVID-19, said Tim Killian, a spokesman for the nursing home. He said that about 30 had been tested by Tuesday, and that he believed arrangements were being made to test all 180 workers. Some 64 of the facility’s employees are showing symptoms and not working, he said, and two have returned to work after receiving medical clearance.
Forty-nine residents remain at the Life Care Center – 21 of them with positive coronavirus tests, and 16 with pending or inconclusive tests, Killian said Tuesday. Nearly three dozen others are in hospitals, including four who were transferred since Monday. Including all residents, those who are hospitalized and those who remain at Life Care, there are 55 positive – 34 in hospitals, 21 at the nursing home.
Over the weekend a team of 30 medical professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service began arriving at Life Care to relieve exhausted – and ill – staff.
The Josephine Caring Community nursing home in Stanwood reported three confirmed cases of the disease and the facility was placed in lockdown.
And the blood supply in Western Washington state is “at risk of collapse,” due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Bloodworks Northwest said in a statement.
“The accelerating number of blood drive cancellations due to the closure of schools, businesses, and events over coronavirus concerns has put nearly 60% of the community’s blood supply in jeopardy,” they said. “With exponentially decreasing opportunities for the public to donate, our community blood supply is in real danger.”
They urged the community to donate blood if they have not been to contaminated areas and are in good health.
Inslee said the state is still considering banning large gatherings like sporting events.
“I would not be shocked if we have some more news on that in the next few days,” he said. “If we’re going to stop this epidemic, we need to look at what’s coming, not just what’s here today.”
Since COVID-19 has impacted workers, Inslee also said he has expanded support for businesses and workers in the state.
Workers can receive unemployment benefits and employers can get relief of benefit charges if they need to cut operations or shut down because a worker is sick with the disease.
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