Second patient dies, 5 more infected after COVID-19 outbreak in Auburn hospital unit

Five more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and a second patient has died after an outbreak on a fourth-floor unit of MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. In all, fourteen patients and 12 staff members have tested positive.

MultiCare told Q13 News earlier this month that eight patients tested positive and one patient died after the outbreak was detected. A second patient died on Nov. 16, officials said Thursday.

The MultiCare hospital system, which owns the hospital, tested all 40 patients in the unit and 212 staffers who had worked there in the two-week period before the first positive test was reported.

As of Nov. 10, five employees received positive COVID tests and were isolating at home. On Thursday, MultiCare said a total of 12 employees have now tested positive.

MultiCare provided the following statement to Q13 News:

"It’s important to know that these COVID-19 cases are confined to this locked unit where visitors are not allowed. The affected patient population, in particular, is unable to be consistently compliant with masking and tends to comingle with fellow patients more than other units in the hospital.  

"We continue to collaborate with Public Health to support any follow-up testing as we continue our investigations. We have also been regularly communicating with the families of the patients in this unit so they have the latest information about their family member. There has not been spread outside that unit that we are aware of."

State health officials have reported 350 outbreaks in health care settings, including hospitals since Oct. 24, a statewide outbreak report previously said. An additional 706 outbreaks were counted at long-term care facilities over a similar time period.

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.

For most people, the 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.