EVERETT — The number of COVID-19 cases in Snohomish County’s long-term care facilities has nearly doubled in the past week as the coronavirus crisis continues to batter local nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
As of Friday, 194 cases had been confirmed in residents or staff members of long-term care facilities in the county — up from roughly 100 on April 3, according to the Snohomish Health District.
Twenty-four COVID-19 deaths reported by the health district are linked to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. That’s more than a third of the county’s coronavirus death toll.
The health district added four more names to its list of facilities with outbreaks: GenCare Lynnwood at Scriber Gardens with 10 cases; Lynnwood Post Acute Rehabilitation Center with 6 cases; Rosewood Courte Memory Care in Edmonds with 10 cases; and Sunrise of Edmonds with 6 cases.
As the pandemic has unfolded, long-term care facilities locally and across the nation have become hotbeds for infections and deaths — in part because residents are older and often have underlying health issues. Nursing homes and assisted living communities face a host of challenges in combating outbreaks, from staffing issues to shortages of critical protective gear.
A lack of tests, too, has allowed COVID-19 to spread unchecked in some nursing homes.
“We don’t have the ability at our level to do blanket testing. We do not have access to those resources,” said Joseph Scrivens, CEO of Bethany of the Northwest, which has several locations in Everett. “These nursing homes are getting hurt because it’s hard to detect.”
One staff member at Bethany’s Pacific Avenue location has has tested positive for COVID-19, Scrivens said.
Rosewood Courte “is working closely with the health department to get all residents and staff tested,” said Darah Cooney, vice president of Northwest Care Senior Living.
Cooney’s case count for Rosewood Courte differed from the numbers provided by the Snohomish Health District. She said in an email that seven residents tested positive for COVID-19, including two who died. Another 12 staff members also tested positive and are self-isolating at home, she said.
The discrepancy could be because some patients notified Rosewood Courte, but the health district hasn’t yet been informed of the cases, said district spokeswoman Kari Bray. Employees might also live in another county and would instead be included in the case count of that county, Bray said.
Sunrise of Edmonds contacts all residents and families after learning of a positive case, said Nicole Vasile, a senior communications manager for Sunrise Senior Living.
The organization has hired a cleaning service to sanitize the building, brought in “additional nurses and support teams” and started “rigorous screening protocols to identify potential symptoms” in residents and staff, Vasile said.
Like other long-term care facilities in the county, Sunrise of Edmonds has also prohibited visitors and stopped group dining.
“Our team is working to maintain as much normalcy as possible for our residents and families despite this situation,” Vasile said.
As of Friday, the number of cases at Sunrise View Convalescent Center and Retirement Villa in Everett had risen from 39 on April 3 to 52. COVID-19 has been a factor in 14 deaths there.
Another 32 cases and six deaths were linked to Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood.
The health district has logged nearly 80 more cases at long-term care facilities across the county that it hasn’t publicly named.
The health district does not identify long-term care facilities with fewer than five confirmed cases to protect patient privacy, said district spokeswoman Heather Thomas.
“This is a standard procedure for how the Snohomish Health District releases and protects data regarding communicable diseases. If we confirm a positive case involving a resident or staff member, particularly in smaller facilities, the likelihood of identifying an individual with COVID-19 increases,” Thomas said in an email.
The Daily Herald has confirmed the names of five other long-term care facilities in the county where one resident or staff member has tested positive for coronavirus. Those are Brookdale Monroe, Brookdale Stanwood, Snohomish Health and Rehabilitation, Olympic Place by Bonaventure in Arlington and Prestige Post-Acute and Rehab Center – Edmonds.