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COVID-19 outbreak at Bellingham care facility linked to area death

Last Updated Mar 23, 2020 at 9:40 am PDT

The Shuksan Care Facility in Bellingham, Wash., the center of a local COVID-19 outbreak. Source: Google Maps

The majority of positive COVID-19 in Whatcom Country cases are now centered at the short-term rehabilitation facility

County officials say the second person to die of COVID-19 had been discharged from the center before showing symptoms

Thousands in Washington state have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which has killed 95 people in the state

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (NEWS 1130) – A short-term rehabilitation centre in Bellingham has seen an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, with county health officials reporting 29 new cases at that facility in the space of a day – and a connection to the second novel-coronavirus-related death in the county.

Those new cases bring the total from Shuksan Healthcare Center to 32 total positive tests among residents and staff, according to a release sent Sunday from the Whatcom County Department of Health. On Saturday, the department reported 3 cases at Shuksan.

Officials are also linking the second COVID-19 death in Whatcom County to the center, writing that the person in their 80s developed symptoms after being discharged earlier this month.

“The individual… was later tested, and the results of the test were confirmed as positive… the day following his death,” according to the news release.

Residents continue to receive care at the facility, with local governments working to make sure there is increased capacity for patients to be directly monitored.

Nursing and medical staff who show symptoms of any respiratory illness “were excluded from work starting March 21,” the release reads. Any worker who tests positive will be kept away from work based on when their symptoms subside.

Shuksan is just the latest care facility to see a clustering of cases, with the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, and the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver both reporting a significant number of positive COVID-19 tests.

On their website, Shuksan describes themselves as a short-term rehabilitation and recovery facility for people after hospitalization.

As of early Monday, Whatcom County reported 48 total positive cases and 2 deaths, with 271 negative tests. Statewide, nearly 2,000 people have tested positive with 95 deaths.