Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. In the past six weeks, the number of people in local hospitals due to the virus has risen 400%. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. In the past six weeks, the number of people in local hospitals due to the virus has risen 400%. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

COVID outbreak at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett

With record-high infection rates, the virus can make its way into any setting, a health official said.

EVERETT — Nearly 30 health care workers at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett tested positive for COVID-19 between late October and early November, hospital spokesperson Casey Calamusa said in a statement.

On Oct. 25, six caregivers at the Everett hospital tested positive for COVID. A week later, 20 more were identified as being infected with the virus. Since then, fewer than five patients have also tested positive.

Providence has tested the patients and staff who were exposed, isolated affected patients, stopped all hospital visits and done deep cleans of the facility, according to a statement from the hospital.

Like most other workplace settings that experience clusters of cases, Providence has followed all the relevant safety protocols, county health officer Dr. Chris Spitters told reporters Tuesday. But with ultra-high infection rates, the virus can find its way into any setting, he said.

“With this much transmission occurring in the community, whether you’re a long-term care facility, a hospital, a school or workplace, the chances of COVID walking in the door are now 10 times higher than they were when our rates were down and fell below 25” cases per 100,000 people, Spitters said of Snohomish County. “We should expect more of this in the near future, until we’ve really turned things around and get the incidents in the community down so that there’s less COVID walking through the door.”

Across the county, dozens of places, including schools, restaurants, shops and construction sites, have seen outbreaks since June.

And with rising case rates, the virus has recently made its way back into long-term care homes.

Meanwhile, the number of people in local hospitals due to the virus has risen 400% in the past six weeks. If the current trend continues, the county will surpass last spring’s highs for hospitalizations in the next week or two, Spitters said.

“As coronavirus cases surge and hospitalizations increase, it’s critical that all of us take action now to protect our families, our communities and ourselves,” Dr. Jay Cook, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said in the statement. “Hospitals do not have unlimited capacity. Health care workers and (personal protective equipment) are not endless resources. Every one of us has a moral responsibility to do what we can to stem the tide of this virus. For the sake of your loved ones, and on behalf of our frontline health care workers, I urge you to please wear your mask and limit in-person gatherings as much as you can.”

Providence said its protocols allowed staff to quickly identify the outbreak and notify local and state public health organizations.

“We take infection prevention and the protection of our patients and caregivers extremely seriously,” the hospital said in a statement. “Our patients will continue to receive the high-quality care our community has come to expect from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.”

The Snohomish Health District is helping Providence notify close contacts of everyone who’s tested positive.

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

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