A Mount Vernon nursing home is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 among residents and employees, Skagit County confirmed in a press release Monday.

So far, 21 residents and employees at Mira Vista Care Center have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The first case of this outbreak was confirmed June 19, and others were confirmed with follow-up testing, the release states. Most cases have been mild or asymptomatic.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing again that the most vulnerable in our community are the most impacted by COVID-19,” Polly Dubbel, communicable disease and environmental health manager with Skagit County Public Health, said in the news release. “In congregate living situations, COVID-19 can be very challenging to contain. It’s so important that the community at large works together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help stop the virus from entering these vulnerable facilities.”

Laura Gelwicks, county communications coordinator, said that much like the rest of the state, this area is seeing a general increase in virus transmission.

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“COVID-19 spreads really quickly in congregate living situations,” she said. Behavior in the general public has an impact on that, even if individuals never go inside a care facility.

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“Cases don’t spontaneously emerge in these facilities,” Gelwicks told the Skagit Valley Herald. “They have to come from somewhere else,” such as an employee or visitor bringing the virus inside.

She noted that Mira Vista has been following CDC guidelines for safety and state protocols for presumptive positive cases.

Public safety measures remain important, she said. That includes wearing a mask at all times in public, staying 6 feet away from others and washing hands frequently.

Due to a statewide spike in cases, Gov. Jay Inslee stopped any county from moving forward in his Safe Start Reopening Washington plan until at least July 16.

Skagit County currently meets four of the five risk assessment metrics necessary to move forward, according to the release. Skagit County must be under 25 cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days to meet the last metric, and Skagit is currently at 36.4 cases per 100,000 residents.

Case counts are one piece of the puzzle, and Skagit County is still doing well in other areas, such as available hospital beds and ability for contact tracing. But Gelwicks warned that things could change.

“We can’t keep seeing cases going upward, or we will eventually have a problem,” she said.

Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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