Washington coronavirus cases surge among homeless shelter population, death reported at county isolation site

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Coronavirus cases have surged at shelters and housing for the homeless in one Washington county, with a death reported at a self-isolation site, health officials said Monday.

King County, where Seattle is located, has 112 COVID-19 cases and two confirmed deaths among homeless people or those working in homeless services sites, a county press release said.

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The number reflects a 24 percent increase from the 27 confirmed infections on April 7, the Seattle Times reported.

The county also announced the death of a man in his 60's who was found unresponsive during a routine check Monday at a Kent motel used by the county as an isolation site for the homeless.

Officials did not say whether the man died of coronavirus complications. The county medical examiner is investigating.

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“We are all saddened by the death of our guest. People living homeless are more vulnerable to many health conditions, including COVID-19,” said a statement from Leo Flor, director of the King County Department of Community and Human Services, and Patty Hayes, director of public health – Seattle & King County. “We will continue to work around the clock to ensure that all King County residents, including those without a home, have a dignified place to be when receiving care for this virus.”

The death was the second at the Kent site this month, the Rev. Rick Reynolds, executive director of faith-based shelter and housing provider Operation Nightwatch, told the paper.

The city of Kent has twice tried to block King County from using the motel as a coronavirus quarantine site, but its pleas were rejected because of the health emergency declared in Washington.

The county said there are currently 70 people in isolation, quarantine and recovery facilities.

As of Tuesday, 12,486 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Washington, with 658 deaths.

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Most of the state’s COVID-19 infections are in King County, which reported 5,293 cases and 360 deaths Monday.