Last Updated Mar 10, 2020 6:50 PM EDT
Kirkland, Washington — The cleaning crew arrived in full hazmat gear at the nursing home that's been ground zero in the coronavirus epidemic. Some 21 residents at the Kirkland facility have now tested positive for the virus. Families are on edge and have been forced to communicate through a window.
With the virus now in 10 nursing homes in King County alone, Governor Jay Inslee is sounding the alarm: imposing some of the strictest requirements in the country for older adults at all long-term facilities in the state, including limiting visitors to one per day; requiring visitors to wear special protective gear; and screening employees for symptoms before each shift.
"If you do the math, it gets very disturbing," Inslee said. "If it's 1,000 [infections] today, in seven to eight weeks there could be 64,000 people infected in the state of Washington if we don't somehow slow down this epidemic. And in the next week it could be 120,000, and in the next week a quarter of a million."
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Adults — 60 and over — are at higher risk for the virus, especially those who have chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now advising them to:
- Stock up on groceries and medicines
- Stay home as much as possible
- Keep space between themselves and others
The risk increases with age. One study by Chinese health officials found that for adults 80 or older, the death rate from the virus was nearly 15%.
In a sign of chaos behind the scenes, Life Care says they believe more residents may have died in the hospital overnight, but they haven't been able to confirm with health officials on the phone. The facility is getting a deep cleaning right now to try to control the spread.
For more information, visit the CDC website.