One patient has died, eight additional patients have become infected and at least five staffers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, after an outbreak on a fourth floor unit at Auburn Medical Center, the MultiCare hospital system said in a news release Tuesday. 

A patient’s positive test “late last week” triggered a process for investigating, testing and notifying patients and staffers, the news release said.

MultiCare — the latest of several King County hospitals to report outbreaks — tested all 40 patients in the unit, according to the news release, and 212 staffers who had worked there in the two weeks before the first positive test. 

MultiCare said it has received results from all of the patients and 156 of those staffers. It was not immediately clear from the news release if some potentially exposed staff members were awaiting testing or results. The five infected staffers are recovering at home, the hospital system said in the news release.

The hospital system said it has isolated infected patients in a COVID-19 unit and plans to continue to monitor those who tested negative for coronavirus on the unit. It has stopped discharging patients from the unit and notified Public Health — Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health of the outbreak.

MultiCare issued the news release Tuesday evening through a public relations agency. The hospital system did not immediately respond to several questions from The Seattle Times.


The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), as of Oct. 24, has counted 350 outbreaks in health care settings, including hospitals. An additional 706 outbreaks were counted at long-term care facilities during a similar time period, according to a statewide outbreak report published Oct. 29.

DOH considers an outbreak to involve at least two individuals who record positive coronavirus tests, at least two cases in which symptoms begin within 14 days of one another and plausible evidence of transmission at a shared location that is not a household.

Many King County hospitals have experienced outbreaks.

At least 73 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus after an outbreak that began in August at St. Michael Medical Center in Bremerton, according to the Kitsap Public Health District. The medical center reported another outbreak Tuesday involving four patients and two staffers.

A coronavirus outbreak last month in a surgical unit at Harborview Medical Center infected four patients, killing one. Ten Harborview staffers tested positive for the virus. Thirty more staffers quarantined after possible exposure.

In mid-August, eight health care workers and one patient tested positive at Swedish Cherry Hill in Seattle. Later that month, four employees and a patient tested positive at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

The Seattle Times submitted a public-disclosure request to DOH in early October for reports and data about outbreaks in health care settings. The agency said it would provide records by July of next year.