Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

COVID is making its way back into long-term care homes

More than 20 such facilities are dealing with outbreaks as countywide infections continue to rise.

EVERETT — The coronavirus has made its way back into dozens of local long-term care homes as Snohomish County continues to surpass previous highs for COVID infections.

Countywide, more than 20 long-term care homes have COVID outbreaks, totaling more than 350 new cases since late October.

The rise in outbreaks is a result of increased transmission across the county, health officer Dr. Chris Spitters has said. With increased disease activity, workers and visitors at the sites are more likely to bring the virus. Once inside, it spreads quickly.

The largest outbreak is at Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood. As of Monday, 142 people, including residents and staff, have tested positive for COVID since Oct. 26, according to health district spokesperson Heather Thomas. Eleven people have been hospitalized for the virus and 10 have died during that period.

At Regency Care Monroe, there are at least 91 cases, with seven hospitalizations and 12 deaths since mid-October.

Meanwhile, the county’s rolling case rate reached 304 per 100,000 residents in the latest 14-day period, which ended Saturday. That’s an increase of about 30 from last week’s total, and the highest the rate has ever been.

The health district also recorded 302 new COVID cases in a single day last week. That’s the largest single-day tally recorded during the pandemic, surpassing the previous high of 277, set earlier this month.

And hospitalizations and deaths from the virus continue to rise.

As of Monday, more than 80 people were in county hospitals due to COVID, with 12 more patients suspected of having the virus.

On Friday, that number was 53. In October, it was in the 20s.

Despite nearly every pandemic indicator pointing in the wrong direction, health officials say progress toward a vaccine is a cause for hope.

Nearly 40 million vaccine doses, from Pfizer and Moderna, will be available nationwide by the end of the year, White House officials said on a Monday call with governors.

It’s not yet clear how much of that will come to Washington.

But with a limited early supply, it will take months to vaccinate everyone. Additionally, both vaccines require each recipient to take two doses over the course of three to four weeks.

Before any amount of a vaccine arrives in Washington, state leaders must select which groups get the vaccine first. That will likely include health care workers, the elderly, first responders, people with underlying health conditions and essential workers.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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