Washington care center hospitalizes 15 residents amid coronavirus deaths, outbreak

Officials in Washington state have confirmed that 15 residents of the Life Care Center in Kirkland have been hospitalized amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

On Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee, Congressman Derek Kilmer, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and King County Executive Dow Constantine shared the latest news in a briefing on the federal COVID-19 emergency funding package.

Citing numbers released Friday morning, Constantine said that 15 of the 69 residents at the King County nursing care and rehabilitation facility had been transported to hospitals within the last 24 hours. He did not disclose exactly what the residents were hospitalized for.

A sign at the entrance of the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., near Seattle.

A sign at the entrance of the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., near Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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To date, Washington has been the hardest-hit state in the U.S., with over 70 cases of COVID-19 reported so far, and more fatalities than anywhere else in the nation. At least nine of those who have died in Washington State are said to have been residents of the Life Care Center.

Describing the situation as “extremely fluid,” Constantine said that “all residents and staff of Life Care are being tested or will be tested shortly, thanks to the University of Washington’s increased testing capacity.”

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“All residents who need to be hospitalized have been or are in the process of being transported to a hospital. If someone’s condition worsens, they will also be transported,” he continued, emphasizing that public health officials believe the conditions at the facility have “significantly improved” thanks to assistance from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

“This is for many of the residents the best place that they can be, those who are asymptomatic but have these health conditions that have to be attended to in a 24-hour care facility,” Constantine said, explaining that Life Care cannot simply “shut down” amid the ongoing outbreak, as there is no capacity for hospitals or other nursing homes to take the residents.

With help from the federal government, a 30-person task force of medical professionals will arrive at Life Care tomorrow to assist a “strained” staff at the center, Constantine said.

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Constantine also stressed that residents of the Life Care Center and their families remained a “top of mind” priority for state health officials.

“We are 100 percent committed to the health and welfare of your loved ones,” he said. “We must prepare this region for the inevitable continued spread of this virus, at least in the short run."

"But we will do everything we can to slow its spread, protect those who are most likely to become seriously ill from it, and keep the entire community safe and fully informed.”