Coronavirus Skagit

BURLINGTON — Five employees and one resident at Prestige Care, a long-term care facility in Burlington, have tested positive for COVID-19, Skagit County reported Saturday.

Skagit County Public Health is working with the state Department of Health to test the remaining staff and residents, and is notifying all close contacts with instructions for quarantine precautions, according to a news release.

“The facility had been following all of Governor Inslee’s direction for long-term care facilities and initiated infection control measures promptly,” the news release states. “DOH found no gaps in the facility’s practices.”

As of Saturday afternoon, 97 residents of Skagit County have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 91 the day before. Two more deaths were also reported Saturday, bringing the total to three. Eight people have been hospitalized.

No more detailed information was immediately available on the deaths.

Howard Leibrand, Skagit County’s public health officer, said in an interview that Prestige Care’s 35 residents and 45 staff members have already been tested and are awaiting results, or will be tested in the next few days.

He said the nursing home resident who tested positive is isolated in the facility. As for the nursing home’s staff, Leibrand said some are not working because they have symptoms, and that the facility is adequately staffed.

He said employees who are confirmed or are probable cases can return to work based on criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health.

The criteria states that health care employees can return to work after three days following recovery, defined as resolution of fever without fever-reducing medications and improvement of respiratory symptoms, and after at least seven days have passed since first symptoms appear.

Employees who return to work must wear face masks for at least 14 days after illness onset, or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer, according to the criteria. Those who may have been exposed but are asymptomatic must also wear a face mask and take other precautions, but must immediately self-isolate and stop patient care if they develop symptoms.

Leibrand said without these guidelines to allow health care employees to return to work, there would be a shortage of medical staff.

“Knowing they’re positive, they can take extreme precautions,” he said. “The (personal protective equipment) does exactly what it’s supposed to.”

Other area senior facilities have also seen COVID-19 cases, including Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood and Chandler’s Square Retirement Community in Anacortes.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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