Researchers believe the virus may have been circulating within the facility for weeks undetected.
Federal authorities are investigating a nursing home after 16 deaths from the coronavirus have been linked to the Life Care Center nursing facility located in Kirkland, Washington. While health experts have warned that adults ages 60 and older are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, there may be other factors at play that helped to cause the virus to spread so rapidly in this one nursing facility—the conditions these nursing home residents were living under.
CNN shared what one first responder saw when they arrived at the facility just last week. The first responder claimed they “found an understaffed facility with inadequate gear attempting to serve dozens of patients vulnerable to catching the virus.” The source also highlighted that only three staff members reported to Life Care Center between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to serve 90 residents. The King County Health Department along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allegedly did not send personnel Thursday to provide assistance to the understaffed facility, although the source says help was later sent.
Relatives of a nursing home resident who has suffered as a result of understaffing should consult with a nursing home neglect lawyer.
CNN says that first responders were also concerned because staff members were wearing personal protective equipment that was deemed inappropriate “to handle the high number of patients with probable coronavirus.” One first responder said that employees were using “positive pressure bag valve masks to ventilate potential coronavirus patients — even though firefighters have been told not to use such masks, as they can disperse more particulate into the air.”
A spokeswoman for the City of Kirkland told CNN that “firefighters are taking direction from King County Emergency Medical Services regarding the personal protective equipment” and they have been told “to continue providing respiratory support including positive pressure bag valve masks.” On Saturday, a spokesperson for the Life Care Center said that the CDC has sent extra nurses, practitioners, and doctors to the facility.
Counties in Washington are Beginning to See More and More Coronavirus Cases
KIRO 7 reported on Monday that the number of coronavirus cases increased in various counties in Washington. While the death toll has now reached 19 as of Sunday, there are at least 136 confirmed cases in the state. The Department of Health provided the following breakdown of cases by county:
- King County-83
- Snohomish County-31
- Pierce County-4
- Grant, Jefferson, Clark, and Kittitas County-1
Because the virus is spreading at an alarming rate in Washington, multiple schools have been closed down for cleaning and many universities will not be holding classes in person through the end of the winter quarter. Some other important updates KIRO 7 shared include:
- According to an emergency order that was issued by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, Washington state health insurers are required to waive copays and deductibles for anyone requiring testing for coronavirus.
- Seattle & King County is advising the at-risk population, which includes people over the age of 60 and pregnant women to avoid large gatherings altogether.
- Kaiser Permanente has launched a coronavirus vaccine study in Seattle.
While health officials are looking for ways to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, they remind you to take the necessary measures to protect yourself as you would from the flu or any other virus.