Spokane County confirmed its fifth case of COVID-19 Wednesday, and Benton County reported its first death related to the disease.
Confirmed cases statewide neared 1,200 and deaths related to the disease had reached 66 by Wednesday afternoon, according to the state health department. Close to half the cases and all but 10 of the deaths were attributed to King County, while 167 confirmed cases remained unassigned to a geographic area.
That data did not include the weekend death of a Richland woman who tested positive for COVID-19. The Benton-Franklin Health District announced her death Wednesday. The woman, who was in her 80s and had underlying health conditions, died in a local hospital.
A Franklin County woman in her 20s with underlying health conditions tested positive Tuesday. She is being treated at a local hospital, and her infection appears linked to foreign travel.
Public health officials also said a Puyallup woman in her 50s died of complications from the virus.
The Spokane Regional Health District was working Wednesday afternoon to identify and reach close contacts with the county’s fifth confirmed case, according to the Spokane County Department of Emergency Management. Those people will be monitored for fever and respiratory illness symptoms.
SRHD spokesperson Kelli Hawkins said Wednesday afternoon that officials continue to gather information about the new patient, including demographics, travel history and contacts with other potentially infected persons.
Another seven counties east of the Cascades reported 24 cases, including eight in Grant County and seven in Yakima County, according to the state health department. The first Eastern Washington death related to COVID-19 was in Grant County.
The Kittitas County Public Health Department confirmed its fourth case of COVID-19 Wednesday morning in a Lincoln Elementary School employee. The department said all students and staff who were at the school in Ellensburg on March 11 were exposed to the novel coronavirus by the employee, who did not have symptoms at the time, and advised them to self-isolate at home until March 25.
“Everyone in Kittitas County should proceed as though everyone has COVID-19,” the local health department said in a subsequent statement. “We are recommending people to shelter in place, if possible, to avoid exposing others or being exposed again themselves.”
Providence cancels elective surgeries, designates respiratory care locations
Providence hospitals followed suit with MultiCare facilities by suspending nonemergency elective surgeries starting Thursday in response to needs for medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy applies to Providence’s Spokane and Stevens counties facilities, including Sacred Heart Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital, Mount Carmel Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital.
MultiCare, which operates Deaconess Hospital and Valley Hospital and Medical Center, said Monday it would postpone elective surgeries through at least Sunday in order to preserve personal protective equipment supplies needed to treat patients with COVID-19.
Providence also announced Wednesday two focused care locations for people with respiratory illness symptoms, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, at 421 S. Division St. and 551 E. Hawthorne Road in Spokane.
“This measure can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and allows us to dedicate critical and limited resources to those who need the most care,” the hospital said in a statement.
Providence also said it would transition providers at ExpressCare Clinics in Spokane County to virtual ExpressCare, allowing people to stay home, medical facilities to reduce unnecessary visits and hospitals to preserve and pool personal protective equipment.
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