By Cameron Sheppard

WNPA News Service

A week into the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus at a facility caring for frail and elderly people, John Weisman, secretary of the state Department of Health, described the state and federal response from the first cases of pneumonia until today.

On Thursday, the death toll in Washington state rose to 11, with the latest reported by the King County Public Health Department to be a woman in her 90s who succumbed at Evergreen Health in Kirkland on March 3.

At least six of the deaths in the state are directly linked to the Life Care Center in Kirkland, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center where there have been a significant number of coronavirus infections among staff and residents.

“This situation does remind us just how severe an outbreak of COVID-19 can be in our nursing and other healthcare facilities, where elderly and medically fragile people are getting care,” Wiesman said.

The outbreak timeline according to Weisman:

  • Thursday, Feb. 27 — King County Public Health was made aware that a number of patients from Life Care Center in Kirkland were hospitalized with severe pneumonia and other residents were reportedly ill with respiratory illness symptoms
  • Life Care Center had about 108 patients at the time and 179 staff members
  • Friday, Feb 28 — Test results confirmed that one resident of Life Care Center and one employee had COVID-19
  • Later that evening — A request was placed to the national Centers for Disease Control asking for resources to conduct an epidemiological study and infection control support.
  • Saturday, Feb 29 — Results of the testing were publically released.
  • Sunday, March 1 — 18 CDC employees arrived to assist King County Public Health and have since been cooperating and coordinating with the local health agency to slow the spread of the infection and to provide equipment and clinical support.
  • Thursday and Friday, March 5 and 6 — A team of 28 clinicians, including physicians, nurse practitioners and registered nurses from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, arrive in Washington to assess the situation and begin clinical support.