Coronavirus cases rise in Washington, prompting new rules for nursing homes: "If you do the math, it gets very disturbing"

Washington braces for more coronavirus cases

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is expected to ban gatherings of more than 250 people in most of the Seattle metro area, while the state braces for potentially tens of thousands of more cases of coronavirus. Inslee also outlined new rules for nursing homes, which have been hit hard by the coronavirus.

Public health officials said at least 10 long-term care facilities in the Seattle area have reported cases. Patients have died at three of those facilities. Of the 32 people who've died from coronavirus in the U.S., 20 of them are linked to the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington.

Bridget Parkhill's mother recently tested positive for coronavirus at the Life Care Center. She and her sister now visit by standing outside her window.

"It wasn't a shock that she was positive," Parkhill told CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti. "It should have been a priority to get everybody tested so they could get all the negative people out of here before they turned positive."

But a shortage of tests meant only the critically ill were prioritized.

Another long-term care facility that has reported coronavirus cases, the Josephine Caring Community, is in lockdown, CEO Terry Robertson said.

"No visitors, no consultants and no families. And I can tell you that's incredibly tough," he said.

In Northern California, officials confirmed Tuesday that an assisted living resident in their 90s died after getting the virus. And a recent study examining coronavirus cases in China found that in people over 80 years old, the death rate was nearly 15%.

In Seattle's King County, 74 more cases were announced Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to more than 260. 

"If you do the math, it gets very disturbing," Inslee said.

The new nursing home rules outlined by the governor include limiting patients to one visitor per day and screening employees and volunteers for symptoms at the start of their shift.

"The number of people who are infected in an epidemic like this will double in the state of Washington unless we take some real action here," he said.

Industry groups have issued recommendations for those whose family members live in nursing homes. They said you should ask your loved one's facility about its plans for cleaning and staffing, keep in touch remotely for now, and monitor instead of move. Leaving the facility could put the elderly at much higher risk, officials said.