At least two of the confirmed COVID-19 cases originated from the Life Care Center nursing facility in Kirkland. Samantha Pak/Sound Publishing

At least two of the confirmed COVID-19 cases originated from the Life Care Center nursing facility in Kirkland. Samantha Pak/Sound Publishing

State steps up response to coronavirus outbreak

Public health officials ask WA Legislature for $100 million.

By Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service

Public health officials asked the Washington State Legislature for $100 million for a coordinated response to the coronavirus outbreak in the state.

Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman said March 2 that the state is 42 days into its response to the outbreak and there have been 18 confirmed cases of the virus in King and Snohomish counties.

By Monday morning, six people were reported dead of the virus in the Western Washington counties.

According to Wiesman, 231 people were under public health supervision as of Monday for displaying symptoms.

Wiesman said this is a “very dynamic situation, moving very quickly,” and right now the focus is on slowing the spread of the virus so the already strained health care systems can keep up.

Recently the Centers for Disease Control has developed a testing kit that allows for one-day results.

Wiesman says the state has the capacity to test about 100 people a day using the kits, but expects up to 5 million tests to be available nationwide in the coming weeks.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, pointed out that each testing kit currently costs $2,500.

Wiesman said local health departments are on the front lines of the issue. He said localities are covering the cost with the expectation of being reimbursed in the future. He said about $3.5 million has been spent in response to the viral outbreak so far.

Wiesman said projected costs of the outbreak are difficult to predict because officials still do not know how long the outbreak will last.

Wiesman requested $100 million in the next biennium for the public health system and to help increase hospital capacity in the event of an infection surge.

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, proposed Senate Bill 6696 on Monday, hours before the fiscal cutoff, which would grant the $100 million requested for outbreak response from the state’s emergency “rainy day fund.”

“A public health crisis is exactly the kind of event that justifies dipping into the ‘rainy day fund,’” O’Ban said via written statement. “We want to act quickly to make sure response and recovery efforts are not delayed by a lack of funding.”

Wiesman says data is still being collected and studied by health experts to understand how the disease spreads, but he said the coronavirus has on average a five-day incubation period between when the virus is contracted and when symptoms appear.

Wiesman said the elderly, extremely young and those with underlying health issues will be the most adversely affected populations, similar to influenza.

He also said the virus can live on surfaces, and with perfect temperature and humidity conditions, could live on a surface for a few days. This raises the risk of port workers contracting the virus from an item or surface shipped from overseas.

Jaime Bodden, managing director at Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials, said the state’s response will have to be coordinated between local, tribal, state and federal agencies and health departments.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction reported at least 14 schools that are temporarily closed due to outbreak concerns.

“We can succeed in this if we make our decisions based off of calm confidence that is based on science and rational thought,” Gov. Jay Inslee said at a press conference Monday.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Screenshot from Amazon.com
Kent School Board votes to reject LGBTQ book ban decision

Multiple board members mentioned a need for policy changes in the book challenge process.

Photo of Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson after he shot and killed Jesse Sarey on May 31, 2019. Courtesy photo
Auburn police officer’s violent history could be used against him in court

Judge Nicole Gaines Phelps hasn’t yet decided whether it will be allowed in the trial.

File Photo
Data released on fireworks-related injuries in Washington

Last year fireworks caused $122,000 in damage.

File photo.
Mysterious in-home deaths of father, two daughters ruled as starvation

Written materials about fasting were found in the home; the father’s death called a suicide.

Dr. Faisal Khan. Courtesy of King County.
Dr. Faisal Khan appointed as next King County health director

Dennis Worsham will continue to serve as interim director until September 6.

Tsr
Renton spa employee accused of trying to coerce woman into prostitution, posing nude

Quyen T. Nguyen, 39, has been accused of attempted promotion of prostitution… Continue reading

Teaser
King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Most Read