Tuesday, May 26, 2020
May 26, 2020

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Clark County reports 3 new COVID-19 deaths, 31 new cases

Disease confirmed in 9 long-term care facilities in county

By , Columbian staff writer

COVID-19 has been confirmed in nine long-term care facilities in Clark County, and five deaths from the disease have been associated with those facilities.

On Monday, Clark County Public Health reported 31 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases since Friday, which brought Clark County’s total cases to 168.
Public Health is no longer reporting numbers on weekends.

There were three new deaths reported Monday, which means the county now has suffered 11 fatalities. Nine of the deaths have been in men, and 10 of the 11 who succumbed were age 60 and older. The youngest local fatality thus far was someone in their 40s.

Almost half of the deaths have been associated with long-term care facilities, according to Clark County Public Health data. Long-term care facilities can house more vulnerable, older populations, who are more susceptible to complications of the coronavirus.

Two of the first cases identified in Clark County were a married couple, Merle and Dee Tofte, who lived in different long-term care facilities but saw each other regularly. Both died of the virus.

Merle, Tofte, who lived at Van Mall in Vancouver, accounts for Van Mall’s one case. Van Mall hasn’t had any other cases.

The nine long-term care facilities where COVID-19 has been confirmed have accounted for 15 cases. Public Health is not providing a specific breakdown of how many sick people are residents and how many are staff.

Six of the 15 cases have occurred at three adult family homes. The homes aren’t being identified because they are small facilities with privacy issues, according to Public Health.

Prestige Care and Rehabilitation in Camas, Bonaventure of Vancouver, Highgate Senior Living in Vancouver, ManorCare Health Services in Salmon Creek and Vancouver Specialty and Rehabilitative Care have had cases.

In Clark County, there have been concerns about a lack of testing at long-term care facilities. Last month, all eight Clark County mayors, and the Clark County Council, sent letters to Gov. Jay Inslee, expressing concerns over lack of testing in the county’s long-term care facilities.

“Our providers have restricted testing mostly to hospitalized patients, and it has been difficult, if not impossible, to test long-term care facility residents and other high-risk populations with COVID-19-like illness,” the mayors’ letter reads.

Clark County doesn’t have the supplies to test asymptomatic residents at long-term care facilities, a problem across Washington. The Seattle Times reported last week that at least 90 senior care facilities in Washington have had confirmed coronavirus outbreaks, with 517 cases among employees and residents, 66 of whom have died.

On Friday, Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick explained the difficulties behind testing everyone at larger long-term care facilities, which can house and employ hundreds of people.

He said that as testing ability increases in Clark County, he thinks more attention will be focused specifically on testing residents and staff at long-term care facilities, because they are considered higher risk.

More than 1,600 people have been tested in Clark County so far.

“The plan is to do more testing in long-term care facilities,” he said. “Where something can spread very quickly, those are the areas you want to test.”