11 Stafholt residents, two healthcare workers test positive for COVID-19

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Good Samaritan Society – Stafholt in Blaine has 13 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including 11 residents and two healthcare workers, a spokesperson for the Good Samaritan Society said in an email on April 1.

Two medical professionals and two Stafholt residents initially tested positive for COVID-19, the Good Samaritan Society confirmed to The Northern Light on March 30. Additional testing at the facility revealed nine more cases. Shawn Neisteadt, a spokesperson for the the South Dakota-based nonprofit provider of senior care and services, couldn't say anything about the condition of the infected individuals or when the initial tests came back positive.

The facility has notified all residents and families and is working with the Washington State Department of Health and following its guidance on isolating residents, Neisteadt said. Stafholt is masking all employees and “following droplet precautions for symptomatic residents, and caring for ill residents in designated areas within our facility,” he said.

“Our team is taking extra precautions to monitor the health of staff and residents who may have been exposed. The health and safety of our residents, employees and the community remains our highest priority as we serve during this unprecedented pandemic,” Neisteadt said.

On March 30, Neisteadt said all employees and residents were offered tests for the virus and were tested one at a time in a tent in the parking lot. When questioned about testing the following day, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based spokesperson said he heard testing was still in process.

The Washington State Department of Health, in its guidelines for long-term care facilities, says to prioritize ill healthcare workers for COVID-19 testing and for facilities to “have a low threshold for COVID-19 testing,” for residents.

Throughout the county, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases more than doubled over the past week, going from 89 on March 26 to 175 on April 2. Nine in Whatcom County have died from COVID-19.

As of April 2, 19 percent of COVID-19 tests in Whatcom County came back positive. That's more than double the statewide average, which was 8 percent as March 31, according to Washington State Department of Health data. The county health department didn't respond to questions about the significance of the county's high rate of positive tests by press time.

Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, told NPR that a 10 percent rate of positive tests is a benchmark for a system that’s doing enough testing to pick up all cases. In the article, he noted that in some communities, the majority of tests come back positive.

The Washington State Department of Health reported 5,984 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 247 deaths in Washington as of March 31. At that time, the state had published results from more than 74,000 tests. As of April 2, the state hadn't released new numbers in days, saying its data reporting system was overwhelmed with the number of test results.

British Columbia had 1,066 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths as of April 1, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Early on April 1, the U.S. led the world in number of confirmed cases, with 190,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. At that time, Johns Hopkins was tracking 885,000 cases around the globe.

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