STANWOOD — A total of three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at a Stanwood nursing home with about 140 residents and 300 staff members, the Snohomish Health District announced at a Tuesday news conference.
One woman in her 70s, a resident of Josephine Caring Community, was confirmed positive for the illness late Sunday. At the time she was tested, she was being treated at a local hospital, according to the health district.
Health officials collected samples from seven patients and two staff members at Josephine, and two of those tests came back positive, said Dr. Christopher Spitters, interim health officer for the Snohomish Health District.
Josephine’s early learning and childcare centers, on the same campus in neighboring buildings, remained open Tuesday.
The new positive tests came from a woman in her 90s and a man in his 80s, both of whom were taken to a local hospital.
Five more tests from the nursing home were still pending as of Tuesday, Spitters said.
“I can tell you these are incredibly tough times for our staff and many others in this state,” said Terry Robertson, CEO of Josephine Caring Community. “I think if we do what we need to do, learn what we can and work hard, we’ll get past this.”
The Stanwood facility was in lockdown Tuesday. Group activities, group dining and visitors have been banned.
“I can tell you that’s incredibly tough for families,” Robertson said. “I had a lady in my lobby crying yesterday because she couldn’t see her husband who she’s been married to for 64 years.”
Patient admissions and discharges have been suspended, too, with the exception of transfers to “acute care hospitals,” he said.
Staff members are being screened for symptoms at the start of their shifts, and patients are checked every four hours, Robertson said.
The nursing home is licensed to care for up to about 160 patients, he said.
Josephine Caring Community, more than a century old, is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In addition to the long-term care and children’s facilities, the nonprofit has programs for assisted living and transitional rehabilitation, according to its website.
In an interview, Robertson estimated roughly 50 children attend daily programming at a Montessori house on the property.
The childcare and early learning programs previously had around 200 participants, but that number has fallen since three daycare rooms inside the nursing home were closed, Robertson said. He emphasized that children and nursing home residents have not been “intermingled” since Josephine ended its intergenerational activities at the care home about two weeks ago.
The nursing home has established isolation rooms for residents with signs of respiratory distress or elevated temperatures. Five residents were in isolation Tuesday, Robertson said.
Spitters anticipated more staff and residents will be tested in the coming days. Updated counts, with a breakdown of cases tied to Josephine, will be posted online starting Wednesday, he said.
A team of officials from the health district and the state health department were sent to the nursing home Tuesday.
“High-touch areas” are being sanitized daily, Robertson said.
The health district is working with the Red Cross to implement the national relief organization’s Safe and Well registry, which will allow people with loved ones in the nursing home to check their status online.
A nursing home in Kirkland has been hit harder by the virus than any place in the United States, with at least 19 deaths associated with the Life Care Center, according to a Public Health — Seattle & King County update on Tuesday.
Statewide at least 24 people with the illness have died.
The news of the Josephine Caring Community cases came as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a list of requirements for long-term care facilities aimed at helping to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Residents at care homes will be limited to one visitor a day, and they must host that guest in their rooms. All visitors must follow precautionary measures like social distancing, Inslee said at a news conference Tuesday. Employees must be screened for symptoms at the start of each shift, and the facilities are not allowed to disclose confidential health information, the governor said.
As of Tuesday, 54 people in Snohomish County had tested positive for the virus, Spitters said. Sixty patients awaited pending test results, and about 60 more had tested negative, Spitters said.
Of the confirmed cases in the county, one person has died. Seventeen others have been hospitalized, seven are being isolated at home and 13 have recovered, Spitters said.
People with underlying health issues, as well as those over the age of 60, are at a higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. It has been estimated that the outbreak will likely peak in one or two months, then ease up in three or four months, Spitters said.
“National and state experts are close at hand guiding and advising us in the response,” Spitters said, ”but there is no magic bullet, and this will not end soon.”