Health care workers with symptoms likely contributed to coronavirus outbreak in Washington

Health experts have repeatedly warned that the virus is more dangerous for the elderly

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CDC building October 2014
CDC building October 2014
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Last Updated:
March 18, 2020 - 11:03pm

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Health-care employees who had coronavirus symptoms but continued working in multiple long-term care centers in Washington state likely contributed to the large coronavirus outbreak at those facilities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

The agency reported that an epidemiological investigation at one facility identified 129 cases of the coronavirus – including 81 residents, 34 staff members and 14 visitors. Twenty-three people died at the unnamed facility, according to the CDC, which concluded its report on March 9.

At least 29 coronavirus-related deaths have been linked to one such Washington state facility – the Life Care Center in Kirkland, in King County, where last month the first U.S. death related to the virus occurred.

The CDC attributed the deadly virus outbreak throughout the Washington facilities to "limitations in effective infection control" and a failure to stop employees from working in multiple facilities.

Health experts have repeatedly warned that the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is more dangerous for the elderly and those with medical problems.

"The findings in this report suggest that once COVID-19 has been introduced into a long-term care facility, it has the potential to result in high attack rates among residents, staff members, and visitors," the CDC said.