NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Pacific Northwest states report new coronavirus cases, second death

We’re back with anoth­er instal­la­tion of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties in the Pacif­ic North­west are work­ing dili­gent­ly to con­tain. Unlike some of the non­sense that is unfor­tu­nate­ly cir­cu­lat­ing on social media, all the infor­ma­tion you’ll find here is accu­rate and based on sound sci­ence.

We begin with an update from Wash­ing­ton State/King Coun­ty pub­lic health author­i­ties, who have report­ed new cas­es of coro­n­avirus and a sec­ond death.

COVID-19 test results have come back from the Wash­ing­ton State Pub­lic Health Lab­o­ra­to­ry con­firm­ing four addi­tion­al cas­es of COVID-19 in King Coun­ty res­i­dents. With these four new results, the total num­ber of cas­es in King Coun­ty is ten.

Today’s results include an addi­tion­al death, bring­ing the total num­ber of deaths in King Coun­ty from COVID-19 to two.

King Coun­ty Executive’s Office will join local and state pub­lic health offi­cials on Mon­day to dis­cuss the lat­est cas­es and the King Coun­ty response to this out­break to dis­cuss the lat­est cas­es and the King Coun­ty response to this out­break.

The four new cas­es are in:

  • A female in her 80s, hos­pi­tal­ized at Ever­green­Health in Kirk­land. The woman has under­ly­ing health con­di­tions, and is in crit­i­cal con­di­tion
  • A female in her 90s, hos­pi­tal­ized at Ever­green­Health in Kirk­land. The woman has under­ly­ing health con­di­tions, and is in crit­i­cal con­di­tion
  • A male in his 70s, hos­pi­tal­ized at Ever­green­Health in Kirk­land. The man has under­ly­ing health con­di­tions, and is in crit­i­cal con­di­tion
  • A male in his 70s was hos­pi­tal­ized at Ever­green­Health. He had under­ly­ing health con­di­tions and died on 2/29/20.

All of these new­ly iden­ti­fied cas­es are among res­i­dents of Life­Care, the skilled nurs­ing facil­i­ty in Kirk­land that was pre­vi­ous­ly iden­ti­fied to have two asso­ci­at­ed cas­es.

Six oth­er cas­es, already report­ed ear­li­er by Pub­lic Health, include:

  • A man in his 60s, hos­pi­tal­ized at Val­ley Med­ical Cen­ter in Ren­ton.
  • A man in 60s, hos­pi­tal­ized at Vir­ginia Mason Med­ical Cen­ter.
  • A woman in her 50s, who had trav­eled to South Korea; recov­er­ing at home
  • A woman in her 70s, who was a res­i­dent of Life­Care in Kirk­land, hos­pi­tal­ized at Ever­green­Health
  • A woman in her 40s, employed by Life­Care, who is hos­pi­tal­ized at Over­lake Med­ical Cen­ter
  • A man in his 50s, who was hos­pi­tal­ized and died at Ever­green­Health

Pub­lic Health is work­ing hard to iden­ti­fy close con­tacts of these con­firmed cas­es. These close con­tacts may include fam­i­ly mem­bers, co-work­ers, emer­gency respon­ders and oth­er con­tacts.

A team of CDC offi­cials is on-the-ground work­ing with Pub­lic Health, along with the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health, our health­care sys­tem part­ners and many oth­ers.

The pub­lic can help:

  1. Do not go to the emer­gency room unless essen­tial. Emer­gency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most crit­i­cal needs. If you have symp­toms like cough, fever, or oth­er res­pi­ra­to­ry prob­lems, con­tact your reg­u­lar doc­tor first.
  2. Stay home when sick
  3. Prac­tice excel­lent per­son­al hygiene habits, includ­ing hand­wash­ing, cough­ing into tis­sue or elbow, avoid touch­ing eyes, nose, or mouth.
  4. Stay away from peo­ple who are ill, espe­cial­ly if you are 60 and old­er or have under­ly­ing health con­di­tions such as dia­betes, heart dis­ease, lung dis­ease, or a weak­ened immune sys­tem.
  5. Stay informed. Infor­ma­tion is chang­ing fre­quent­ly. Check and sub­scribe to Pub­lic Health’s web­site (www.kingcounty.gov/COVID) or blog (www.publichealthinsider.com)

The above update was pub­lished at 6:40 PM, fol­low­ing this ear­li­er bul­letin pub­lished at 10:37 AM in the morn­ing by King Coun­ty Pub­lic Health.

COVID-19 test results have come back from the State Pub­lic Health Lab­o­ra­to­ry con­firm­ing two addi­tion­al cas­es of COVID-19 in King Coun­ty res­i­dents. With these two new results, the total num­ber of cas­es in King Coun­ty is six. This num­ber is expect­ed to rise as more peo­ple are test­ed and results con­firmed.

The two new cas­es are in:

  • A male in his 60s, hos­pi­tal­ized at Val­ley Med­ical Cen­ter in Ren­ton. The man has under­ly­ing health con­di­tions, and is in crit­i­cal but sta­ble con­di­tion.
  • A male in 60s, hos­pi­tal­ized at Vir­ginia Mason Med­ical Cen­ter. The man has under­ly­ing health con­di­tions, and his sta­tus is crit­i­cal.

Four oth­er cas­es, already report­ed ear­li­er by Pub­lic Health, include:

  • A woman in her 50s, who had trav­eled to South Korea; recov­er­ing at home
  • A woman in her 70s, who was a res­i­dent of Life­Care in Kirk­land, hos­pi­tal­ized at Ever­green­Health
  • A woman in her 40s, employed by Life­Care, who is hos­pi­tal­ized at Over­lake Med­ical Cen­ter
  • A man in his 50s, who was hos­pi­tal­ized and died at Ever­green­Health

Pub­lic Health is aware that the U.S. Postal Ser­vice is report­ing that one of its employ­ees was diag­nosed with COVID-19. This per­son was one of the four cas­es already report­ed, and is includ­ed in the six total cas­es.

Pub­lic Health is lead­ing the effort to as quick­ly as pos­si­ble iden­ti­fy close con­tacts of these six con­firmed cas­es. These close con­tacts may include fam­i­ly mem­bers, co-work­ers, emer­gency respon­ders and oth­er con­tacts. A team of CDC offi­cials is on-the-ground work­ing with Pub­lic Health, along with the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health, our health­care sys­tem part­ners and many oth­ers.

So, to recap: As of this morn­ing, there were six total known cas­es in King Coun­ty; as of this evening, there were ten total known cas­es. The num­ber of cas­es could rise tomor­row, as the State Pub­lic Health Lab­o­ra­to­ry is work­ing around the clock to process tests of peo­ple who may have COVID-19.

Mean­while, down in Ore­gon, there was sim­i­lar news.

Gov­er­nor Kate Brown issued the fol­low­ing state­ment today regard­ing the Ore­gon Health Author­i­ty’s (OHA) announce­ment of an addi­tion­al case of the COVID-19 coro­n­avirus in Ore­gon. Accord­ing to OHA, there are now two report­ed cas­es of COVID-19 in Ore­gon, both con­nect­ed. An addi­tion­al eight tests came back neg­a­tive:

“My thoughts are with the Ore­go­ni­ans who have con­tract­ed this virus, as well as their fam­i­lies. The devel­op­ments of the last forty-eight hours in Ore­gon and across the globe are con­cern­ing, and we are tak­ing this extreme­ly seri­ous­ly.”

“State and local health pro­fes­sion­als are work­ing around the clock to iden­ti­fy, treat, and con­tain each case of this dis­ease.”

“My com­mit­ment to Ore­go­ni­ans is that our state agen­cies will be as accu­rate, trans­par­ent, and swift as pos­si­ble in con­vey­ing the infor­ma­tion we have to the pub­lic, espe­cial­ly when new cas­es of the coro­n­avirus are iden­ti­fied.”

“Ore­go­ni­ans have a his­to­ry of bring­ing out the best in each oth­er in uncer­tain times. By stay­ing calm and, yes, by doing the same sim­ple things that pro­tect us dur­ing cold and flu sea­son – –wash­ing our hands, prop­er­ly cov­er­ing our coughs and sneezes, and stay­ing home from school or work if we’re feel­ing sick –– we can help keep our­selves and our loved ones healthy and safe.”

The Ore­gon Health Authority’s COVID-19 inci­dent man­age­ment team has been work­ing with state agen­cies and local health author­i­ties to pre­pare for this sce­nario since Jan­u­ary. OHA has oper­at­ed sim­i­lar response oper­a­tions in past efforts to address glob­al health threats such as H1N1 influen­za, Ebo­la, and Zika. Last week, Gov­er­nor Brown direct­ed state agen­cies to con­tin­ue build­ing on active prepa­ra­tions, and stood up an inter­a­gency Coro­n­avirus Response Team to coor­di­nate state and local efforts statewide.

In oth­er news, Fred Hutch sci­en­tist Trevor Bed­ford report­ed on Twit­ter that the team at the Seat­tle Flu Study have sequenced the genome from the Sno­homish Coun­ty case in which an indi­vid­ual con­tract­ed the COVID19 virus from expo­sure with­in the com­mu­ni­ty (as opposed to from abroad).

“There are some enor­mous impli­ca­tions here,” Bed­ford tweet­ed.

“This case, WA2, is on a branch in the evo­lu­tion­ary tree that descends direct­ly from WA1, the first report­ed case in the USA sam­pled Jan­u­ary 19th, also from Sno­homish Coun­ty. This strong­ly sug­gests that there has been cryp­tic trans­mis­sion in Wash­ing­ton State for the past six weeks,” Bed­ford added.

“It’s pos­si­ble that this genet­ic sim­i­lar­i­ty is a coin­ci­dence and these are sep­a­rate intro­duc­tions. How­ev­er, I believe this is high­ly unlike­ly. The WA1 case had a vari­ant at site 18060. This vari­ant is only present in 259 virus­es from Chi­na.”

“I believe we’re fac­ing an already sub­stan­tial out­break in Wash­ing­ton State that was not detect­ed until now due to nar­row case def­i­n­i­tion requir­ing direct trav­el to Chi­na,” Bed­ford assessed in a sub­se­quent tweet.

That seems like a very sound con­clu­sion.

Four Wash­ing­ton Post jour­nal­ists teamed up to write a good arti­cle about the find­ings announced by Bed­ford. If you’d like to read that, you’ll find it here.

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