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@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

t
Kent to add red-light cameras at six more intersections in 2023

Cameras already exist at six intersections and pay for body-worn cameras used by police officers

King County Local Dive podcast
Tale of the freeway rock thrower | King County Local Dive

A podcast for King County residents featuring top local stories.

t
Report finds racial disparity among Washington homeowners

Changes to real estate and lending industries, funding and policy revisions are recommended in order to bridge homeownership gap.

Stock photo, Metro Creative Graphics
Median property values up in Kent and other South County areas

Increases of 24% on Kent’s East Hill; 20.4% on West Hill

t
Kent Mayor Ralph proposes a status quo budget to help fight inflation

Higher salaries, costs cause mayor to stay away from new initiatives in 2023-2024

An apartment at the new Madison Plaza Apartments in downtown Kent at West Meeker Street and Madison Avenue. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
Apartment rents flat in Kent in September but up 8.2% from 2021

No price increase after slight drop in August from July; median one-bedroom rent at $1,470

King County prosecutor candidates Jim Ferrell (left) and Leesa Manion debate Sept. 28 at Carco Theatre in Renton. The forum was moderated by Renton Chamber of Commerce CEO Diane Dobson (center). Photo by Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing
Prosecutor candidates debate court backlog, working with police, restorative justice

King County voters will choose between Jim Ferrell and Leesa Manion in Nov. general election.

t
Kent Police Blotter: Sept. 15-25

Incidents include robbery, death investigation, burglaries, Lowe’s theft crackdown

t
Seattle man charged for attacking Kent Police officer

The man reportedly had the officer in a headlock before he fought back

Most Read