Clallam rechecks ‘suspect positive’ at long-term care facility

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County health officials are awaiting results of a second COVID-19 test after discovering a “suspect positive” test result in an unidentified long-term care facility.

A woman in her 20s who works at the facility tested positive for the disease as part of a statewide effort to test all residents and staff members at such facilities.

“Today we are investigating what we refer to as a suspect positive,” Clallam County Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said Thursday.

“The confirmation is a repeat test and while we are awaiting these results we are treating it like a positive result and implementing the safety steps and contract tracing until we know the second result.”

Unthank declined to identify the facility or say in which town it is located.

Unthank said the health department has been working with the facility to protect other residents and staff.

“There are baseline safety protocols that have been implemented during the pandemic and a whole other layer goes into effect with a positive test result,” Unthank said.

“The state is doing widespread testing of residents and staff and that increases the risk of getting a false positive. We just have to assess and re-test until we know if it is a true result.”

Unthank said the county’s long-term care and assisted living facilities have been doing a “great job” at following health guidelines and preventing potential virus transmission thus far.

On May 28, state Secretary of Health John Wiesman issued an order requiring all nursing homes to have universal testing available by June 12, or June 26 for all assisted living facilities with a memory care unit.

Nearly 26,000 people in Washington state have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes the disease, and more than 1,200 residents of the state have died.

More than 60 percent of those deaths are connected to long-term care facilities throughout the state.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Clallam County remains at 33.

Unthank said the county has upped its testing output to 100 to 150 tests a day from 50 earlier in the pandemic.

“The turnaround time is about 24 to 48 hours on most tests,” Unthank said. “Hospitals are able to do rapid tests for people being admitted and those come back within about two hours.

“We are able to test anyone with symptoms, and that’s been the goal and we are at that point. Generally, we want to continue to increase testing, but that depends on testing supplies and laboratory availability.”

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or mcarman@peninsuladaily news.com.

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