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Two more Spokane Veterans Home residents die from COVID-19

The Spokane Veterans Home, shown Monday, April 27, 2020, at 222 E. Fifth Ave. Five residents of the home have died from COVID-19. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Two more residents of the Spokane Veterans Home have died due to COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to five from the outbreak in the long-term care facility.

The two deaths announced late on Wednesday occurred at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, where 34 residents have been transferred from the Spokane Veterans Home to receive care in a unit converted to care only for COVID-19 patients.

The Spokane Veterans Home has about 85 residents, some of whom receive short-term rehabilitative care as well as long-term nursing care and end-of-life care. Currently, there are 45 residents of the Spokane Veterans Home who have tested positive for the virus. The outbreak at the long-term care facility infected more than half of the residents living there, and it is the worst outbreak recorded so far in a long-term care facility in the Spokane area due to COVID-19. Other residents are being treated in local hospitals, and one is still receiving care at the Spokane Veterans Home.

COVID-19 patients at Mann-Grandstaff are being retested regularly and must have two negative tests in a row within 24 hours to return to the Spokane Veterans Home, a news release from the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs said.

Residents able to return to the home will be quarantined in a wing for previously COVID-positive patients for two weeks as a precaution. The department anticipates three veterans will return to the long-term care facility this week.

There are now 25 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County, including the additional deaths announced on Wednesday night.

Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz announced five more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total to 380. The health district estimates that 66% of county residents who got COVID-19 have recovered.

The Spokane Regional Health District created a map of the expanded testing site offerings throughout the county this week, including screening that is still available at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. Most health care providers in the county are offering screening and testing, but some require a virtual visit or consultation before a person gets tested.

The fairgrounds screening site will remain open Monday through Friday, staffed by National Guard medical teams. People with no health care provider to call, who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, can get screened at the fairgrounds.

In the first phase of testing at the fairgrounds, from March 19 to April 30, 3,889 people were screened, and 1,738 of those people who were screened were actually tested. Only 61 positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed through testing at the fairgrounds site. The last week of operations before the National Guard took over, the site reported one positive test the whole week.

In Spokane County, about 9,515 people have been tested for COVID-19, according to state health data. Of those, 380 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. Increased testing is anticipated in the coming weeks, with the loosening of restrictions of who can be tested by both the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The more testing I’m able to do, the more testing we are then able to get a sense for the disease in our community and move more safely forward,” Lutz said.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.