Yakima County up to 39 cases of COVID-19, potential outbreaks at two nursing homes

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — Health officials reported 39 total cases of COVID-19 in Yakima County as of Monday evening, with 30 confirmed and nine presumptive positives.

Yakima Health District spokesperson Lilian Bravo said several of those cases have been attributed to two local nursing homes: Good Samaritan Health Care Center at 702 N. 16th Ave. in Yakima and Prestige Care & Rehabilitation Parkside at 308 W. Emma St. in Union Gap.

Health officials have reported at least two employees from Good Samaritan have tested positive for COVID-29. Further details about positive cases at the Parkside nursing home were not provided during the press conference Monday evening.

For days, officials have been urging Yakima County residents to practice strict social distancing; by Monday evening, both local and state officials had issued orders directing residents to stay at home.

“Nobody is coming to save Yakima,” Virginia Mason Memorial hospital CEO & President Carol Peet said. “The only tool that we have to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to decrease contact.”

Prior to issuing a stay at home order for Washington state on Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee was reportedly asked by local health officials on Friday to issue a special order that would just affect Yakima County residents.

Health officials said the governor declined to issue the order; the Yakima Health District issued its own county-wide stay at home order Sunday night.

The order followed a press conference with officials at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital, who said the hospital is less than two weeks away from running out of life-saving medical supplies. If the patients keep flooding in like they have been, by April 8, healthcare workers will have to make dire decisions.

“We physicians will be forced to decide which one of our neighbors, our friends, or family members get a chance at life and which ones will certainly die,” Dr. Marty Brueggemann said.

Health officials said as the number of COVID-19 patients increases, the burden on the hospital will affect not only patients with the virus, but other patients seeking care.

“Patients will die, not just of COVID-19, but of other chronic illnesses because we will no longer have the equipment to treat them,” Peet said.

The Yakima Health District issued a stay at home order Sunday, indefinitely directing residents to stay home except for essential activities, such as getting groceries, picking up medicine or going to a healthcare facility.

The order also exempts those who work in the “critical infrastructure sector,” including law enforcement, healthcare personnel, transportation workers and others.

The Yakima County sheriff’s office is working to spread the word about what the order entails.

“At the moment, our office will be choosing to enforce by education,” sheriff’s spokesman Casey Schilperoort said.

Schilperoort said deputies plan to speak with local businesses about what they’re required to do under the stay at home order. He said if a business fails to comply with the order after repeated contact with deputies, they may be subject to fines or citations for either a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor.

“Either one of those would be a maximum fine of $250 or a maximum fine of $500,” Schilperoort said.

For now, health officials continue to ask for residents’ support in slowing the spread of the virus.

“Please go home and stay home,” Peet said. “Changing your behavior can save lives.”

Yakima County COVID-19 Update #2

Posted by Yakima Health District on Monday, March 23, 2020