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Report: Sick staff fueled outbreak in Seattle-area care centers

A report from the CDC provides the most detailed account to date of the outbreak investigation and its findings.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Federal officials say staff members who worked while sick at multiple long-term care facilities contributed to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) among vulnerable elderly in the Seattle area. 

At least 30 deaths have been linked to Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington. A report Wednesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the most detailed account to date of the outbreak investigation and its findings.

According to the report, the introduction of COVID-19 into the long-term care facility resulted in cases among 81 residents, 34 staff members, and 14 visitors. Twenty-three people have died.

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Limitations in "effective infection control and prevention and staff members working in multiple facilities contributed to intra- and inter-facility spread," according to the report. 

Nursing homes in the area are vulnerable because staff have been working with symptoms, working in more than one facility, and sometimes haven’t followed recommendations about controlling infection. 

"The findings in this report suggest that once COVID-19 has been introduced into a long-term care facility, it has the potential to result in high attack rates among residents, staff members, and visitors. In the context of rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreaks in much of the United States, it is critical that long-term care facilities implement active measures to prevent introduction of COVID-19. Measures to consider include identifying and excluding  symptomatic staff members, restricting visitation except in compassionate care situations, and strengthening infection prevention and control guidance and adherence."

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