Seattle nursing home now seen as possible epicenter of US coronavirus outbreak
Seattle nursing home now seen as possible epicenter of US coronavirus outbreak

A nursing home located in a Seattle suburb is now at the center of an investigation after four of its residents died from the dreaded coronavirus. In a report by the U.S. Sun, six people — including the four from the nursing home — have already died in Washington state from the new disease.

Families of the patients have described the situation surrounding the nursing home — identified as Life Care Center of Kirkland — as “sort of like a movie about an epidemic in a little town, and they don’t know how to handle the situation.”

The family members, speaking to CBS News, expressed their concern that while their loved ones are currently being isolated in their rooms and their temperatures monitored daily, those who are showing symptoms will not be tested or hospitalized until they become critically ill. Carmen Gray, whose mother Susan Haley is under quarantine at the nursing home, said that she had asked to get her mother tested for the virus but that the center told her that her mother “did not meet the criteria at this time.”

“They’re being held hostage in a petri dish,” she said.

As of this writing, more than 50 individuals, including 27 residents and 25 workers, have fallen ill at the center. It is still not sure if they are infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The deaths are all counted as part of at least 18 coronavirus cases that have been reported in the Washington area. According to researchers, the virus may have been circulating undetected for weeks.

Washington is one of the states with the most cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus: At least four cases were confirmed in Snohomish County, including one death, while 14 cases were confirmed in King County, with five deaths.

Dow Constantine, King County executive, said the county will purchase a local motel and convert it into a quarantine area, adding that the authorities are expecting the new facility to be done by the end of the week.

King County Public Health Officer Jeff Duchin, meanwhile, said that while they expect the number of cases to increase in the coming days and weeks,  it will be a “very fluid, fast-moving situation,” as they will “aggressively respond” to the outbreak.

Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said authorities must take steps to ensure the safety and health of  Americans who are currently living in nursing homes and similar facilities.

“One thing that is clear is that nursing homes and hospitals are potentially at greater risk, and we are really going to have to think hard about what can be done to protect them,” Frieden said.

Life Care, in a statement posted on its website, says they have not been provided testing kits, and that they are currently relying on local hospitals, as well as the local and state health departments and the CDC to confirm potential coronavirus cases.

As a way to address the spread of the coronavirus, local officials have recommended residents of Seattle and surrounding communities who are aged 60 and above — as well as those who have underlying health conditions — to remain in their homes. In addition, authorities have recommended that community groups cancel events that would bring together more than 10 people, as they could possibly further spread the coronavirus.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has since called for caution but not panic over the spread of the coronavirus, urging the public to take precautions such as washing hands and limited physical contact. (Related: WHO calling for URGENT production of medical supplies, says current stocks” rapidly depleting.”)

As of press time, the CDC pegs the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. at 80, with total deaths pegged at nine.

Sources include:

The-Sun.com

CBSNews.com

LCCA.com

NYTimes.com

CDC.gov

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