Grant County man dies of COVID-19
Local organizations implement changes
Last updated 3/13/2020 at 3:56pm
A Grant County resident has died after becoming infected with the coronavirus, but an Okanogan County resident’s test results came back negative as have some at Coulee Medical Center. And community organizations are taking precautions against COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus.
Grant County Health District stated Sunday that a Quincy resident resident in his 80s, who had tested positive for COVID-19, had died.
The GCHD “has and will continue to follow up with close contacts of this patient,” their press release states.
“We know that COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is in our communities, and likely above the number of cases we already know,” the release says. “Most cases of COVID-19 are mild to moderate and most people who get this virus will recover and be just fine; however, it does have a higher death rate than seasonal flu. The elderly, anyone with reduced immune system, or other serious health problems such as diabetes and heart disease will be at a higher risk of more severe illness.
“There are many conversations in the community and on social media regarding whether this is serious,” the release continues. “Yes, many of our residents will recover quickly with mild to moderate symptoms. However, we all need to take precautions to protect our most vulnerable populations and slow this disease. This illness can be fatal. Please heed our advice.”
That advice includes having people who can work from home do so, to cancel public events or at least discourage sick people from attending, disinfecting surfaces, avoiding hospitals, and washing hands regularly.
GCHD is not encouraging schools to close at this point. Healthy school-aged people are not particularly susceptible to the virus, and canceling school creates its own risks and ramifications for public health.
An Okanogan County resident who was tested for COVID-19 had negative results from that test, a March 9 press release from Okanogan County Public Health said.
Coulee Medical Center this week has tested people for COVID-19, but all the results have come back negative, Chief Executive Officer Ramona Hicks said.
The hospital has continued to screen patients and visitors prior to them entering the hospital, with walk-in patients being seen at the former clinic now known as the Medical Arts Building.
Hicks said there is illness and flu-like symptoms in the area, and that CMC wants “people to protect themselves and follow guidelines,” adding that “protecting the elderly is paramount.”
Hicks said they receive daily updates, sometimes more, from the Washington State Hospital Association regarding COVID-19.
The hospital’s website, http://www.cmccares.org, has additional information, including a link to a video titled “Things your doctor wants you to know about coronavirus,” which Hicks recommends viewing.
The virus has caused local organizations to change how they do things, with the Grand Coulee Dam Senior Center stopping their communal meals, switching to carry-out and delivery only, according to President Cheryll Hoffman. The change was made at the request of GCHD “out of an abundance of caution” and considering the seniors are a high-risk population for the virus, she said, noting center officials had already planned for such a request.
Those wanting a meal from the senior center can call 633-2321.
The Thrift Store at the senior center will be closed, as well.
The tax preparation services being offered out of the senior center will be restricted after March 10, with services being offered to only 10 patrons at time.
The waiting room for the Care & Share Food Bank will not open until 2 p.m. on Fridays, according to a Facebook post from the organization. “We will ask you to wait outside or in your car until that time, then we will let you wait inside until your turn,” the post says. “There is usually not much line between 2:45 and 3:30 if you can come then. If you do have any symptoms, fever, cough, etc. we will make accommodations, but we do not deliver. Please plan accordingly. Thank you for your patience.”
A “deep cleaning” is being performed at 12 Tribes casinos, including Coulee Dam Casino, which was closed from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Monday, and will be closed at the same times on Thursday.
Additional hand sanitizer locations, as well “personal protective equipment” for employees and guests are listed as additional precautions in a 12 Tribes’ March 9 press release.
Washington State Department of Health records show that 75 people in the state died from a form of influenza in the 16 weeks between the end of September and the last week of February.
That compares to 24 people dead from COVID-19 in Washington in the 11 days since the first death was reported Feb. 29.
Nineteen of those deaths are linked to the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland.
Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday that the number of cases is likely over a thousand, despite the number of confirmed cases being only 267.
With the number of cases capable of doubling every five to seven days, Inslee said that in seven or eight weeks there could be 64,000 confirmed cases, which then becomes a quarter of a million a couple weeks later.
The flu in the United States is said to kill between 12,000 and 61,000 per year, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.