SEATTLE — The number of deaths linked to coronavirus in Washington state has reached 16, officials said Saturday as staff at two Seattle-area senior communities dealt with their first reported cases.
The Department of Health released the updated number, saying there are now 102 COVID-19 cases across the state — a figure that did not include the first case in Kittitas County, which was reported on Saturday.
The bulk of the cases are in King County, where 15 of the deaths have been reported in what remains the nation’s worst outbreak. But Jefferson, Pierce, Grant and Clark counties have also announced their first cases, and more than two dozen have been reported in Snohomish County.
The two most recent deaths occurred on Friday, King County health officials said. One was a woman in her 70s, the other was a woman in her 80s. Both were residents of Life Care Center of Kirkland, the nursing home that has been the epicenter of the outbreak and connected to 14 deaths.
A team of 30 medical professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service was due to arrive at Life Care over the weekend to relieve exhausted staff.
“We are grateful the cavalry is coming,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said Friday.
People in senior housing are considered especially susceptible because the disease caused by the new coronavirus is especially dangerous to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Two senior communities — the Ida Culver House Ravenna, a retirement home in northeast Seattle, and the Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in suburban Issaquah, reported one case each.
The Ida Culver House resident has been hospitalized since Wednesday, said the retirement community’s operator, Era Living. The facility has since doubled its disinfection and cleaning practices for common areas, canceled events, asked staff who were in contact with the patient to stay home, and canceled dining room meals — instead delivering food to its approximately 90 residents.
The Issaquah nursing home resident was hospitalized on Tuesday. Three firefighters who responded there have been quarantined but haven’t shown any symptoms, according to Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly.
Precautions and preparations continued on a number of other fronts, with the University of Washington, Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University announcing that classes will be taught online for the rest of the winter quarter. Starbucks closed a downtown Seattle store after a worker tested positive, and a number of large events, including Emerald City Comic Con, have been canceled.
King County was setting up trailers at several sites to care for quarantined patients and purchased an 84-room motel in Kent for $4 million for that purpose. Kent sued on Friday to temporarily block the county from placing patients there, saying officials had not addressed the city’s public health concerns. A Superior Court judge rejected that request with conditions, saying the county could move 15 people into the motel for now.