Avamere Rehabilitation of Cascade Park in east Vancouver has recorded 40 COVID-19 cases, making it Clark County’s largest outbreak associated with a long-term care facility since the county’s first COVID-19 case was discovered in March.
Clark County Public Health confirmed the outbreak to The Columbian on Thursday afternoon. As of 5 p.m., a COVID-19 dashboard on Avamere’s website said that 18 residents and 22 staff at the skilled-nursing facility had tested positive for the virus.
The dashboard also said that one resident and six staff had recovered from the virus. So far, no deaths have been linked to the outbreak.
Avamere did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
In late April, Highgate Senior Living in Hazel Dell recorded the county’s largest care facility outbreak at that time. There were 26 confirmed cases and seven deaths linked to Highgate.
Nearly 330 residents and staff have tested negative for the virus at Avamere, according to the dashboard. Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said Public Health and the state Department of Health have been helping the facility, and that the first case was identified near the end of July. Universal testing has been conducted for residents and staff, Melnick said.
Melnick stressed that long-term care facilities are generally doing the best they can to protect residents and staff. He said the facilities have more personal protective equipment than they did in March and April, but it’s still a challenge to protect against the virus.
“The facilities are really working hard at being safer,” Melnick said. “No matter how vigilant you are, you can’t always keep the virus out completely.”
Increased virus activity in the community makes senior care facilities more susceptible to outbreaks, Melnick said, as many care facility workers live in the community.
“Long-term care facilities are not on an island. They are part of the community,” Melnick said. “When you have more activity in the community, you are going to see more activity in long-term care facilities. I’m urging and begging people of any age to physically distance and wear masks.”
Gov. Jay Inslee recently issued new guidance for long-term care facilities regarding visitor access. According to the new guidance, care facility status is linked to the state’s Safe Start plan, or the recovery phase the county is in. However, the guidance also takes into account other factors, such as local virus activity, facility access to testing, virus activity within the facility and personal protective equipment reserves.