94 people test positive for Covid at care facility in Stanwood

A long-term care facility in Snohomish County reported that 94 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since late October, its second outbreak since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Snohomish Health District spokeswoman Heather Thomas confirmed that 53 residents and 41 staff members at Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood have contracted the virus, The Seattle Times reported Saturday.

It is unclear how many people have been hospitalized. Thomas said in an email over the weekend that at least “a few” were taken to the hospital and that she didn't know of any deaths.

It's the second outbreak connected to the facility about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Seattle. In the first, the facility reported a handful of infections in March, which grew to at least 34 cases, including six deaths as of April 17.

COVID-19 has ravaged senior care facilities nationwide, and the number of infections is rising again in states hit hard by a new surge heading into the cold-weather season.

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Long-term care facilities account for about 1% of the U.S. population but represent 40% of COVID-19 deaths, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

“As we learned early on in this pandemic, COVID-19 infections can spread incredibly fast in congregate living environments like these,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, county health officer. “This is why we have taken such drastic measures in Snohomish County and statewide to protect these vulnerable populations.”

The state Department of Health said about 8,800 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been connected to facilities statewide as of Nov. 9, including 1,354 deaths. In Snohomish County, 910 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been associated with long-term care facilities, including 122 deaths since March.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Josephine Caring Community is working with the health district to investigate and bring the latest outbreak under control, officials said. All communal dining and activities and nonessential visits have been prohibited.

In late March, Josephine CEO Terry Robertson said the facility had 136 residents in its nursing home, 60 in assisted living units and a staff of 300.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.