Since the first case was reported late last month, 94 people associated with a long-term care facility in Stanwood have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the Snohomish Health District.
Of the 94 infections at Josephine Caring Community, 53 are among residents and 41 are staff members. Heather Thomas, spokesperson for the health district, said in an email Saturday that at least “a few” of the infected people have been hospitalized. She was unsure whether any have died.
The number of cases nearly tripled in the last three days, the health district reported. This is the second large outbreak connected to the facility, located about 50 miles north of Seattle.
Though the number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities has remained largely steady since March and April, new outbreaks at facilities previously hit by COVID-19 could be part of the resurgence of the virus in the state. On Saturday, for the second day in a row, state health officials reported a record number of daily cases in Washington, with 2,233 new COVID-19 cases.
“As we learned early on in this pandemic, COVID-19 infections can spread incredibly fast in congregate living environments like these,” Dr. Chris Spitters, the county’s health officer, said in a statement. “This is why we have taken such drastic measures in Snohomish County and statewide to protect these vulnerable populations.”
The first case in this outbreak was reported Oct. 26. In early October, the facility posted on its website that it was monitoring three or more residents and staff with respiratory symptoms in the skilled nursing side of the facility, but wrote each week until the week the first case was reported that “we continue to be COVID-19 free.”
Health district staff are supporting the facility’s staff as they investigate and work to bring the outbreak under control, according to the county health district. All communal dining and activities have been canceled, and nonessential visits are barred, the facility posted on its website. This includes the outside “visitor booth” that residents and their loved ones had been using to see each other while remaining socially distant.
The skilled nursing side isn’t taking new admissions, the facility said.
At the start of the pandemic, Josephine had 136 residents in its nursing home, 60 in its assisted living units, and a staff of 300, Josephine CEO Terry Robertson said in late March.
The facility reported a handful of positive cases in March, which grew to at least 34 cases, including six deaths, as of April 17. It was one of the hardest hit at the time, as COVID-19 ravaged senior care facilities throughout the state.
As of Nov. 9, there have been nearly 8,800 cases of COVID-19 connected to facilities statewide, accounting for 7% of total cases, according to the state Department of Health. This includes 1,354 people who have died, which represents 55% of total COVID-19 deaths.
In Snohomish County, 910 cases have been associated with long-term care facilities, including 122 deaths, since the start of the pandemic, according to the state.
“I implore everyone to double-down their efforts so we can prevent more scenarios like this from happening,” Spitters said.