Spokane Veterans Home COVID outbreak leads to eight hospitalizations, one death

A COVID-19 outbreak at Spokane Veterans Home has resulted in eight hospitalizations and one death after four staff and eight residents have tested positive since July 21.

The home will not publish the vaccination status of every person who tested positive in the latest outbreak, but figures show the majority of residents are vaccinated while the majority of staff are not.

Only 43% of Spokane Veterans Home staff, or 47 of 110 employees, are vaccinated. Of the 81 residents in total, only nine are not vaccinated, so 89% of residents are fully vaccinated.

The Spokane Veterans Home does not require its employees to be vaccinated, and it is not known how the virus entered the facility, according to spokesperson Heidi Audette.

Rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing in the northwest interior, and the most transmissible delta variant is also circulating here. The state’s most recent data shows that the delta variant accounts for 85% of all sequenced cases in the state as of mid-July, and 49 cases of the delta variant have been confirmed in Spokane County.

The majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated, but as the rate of cases increases and hospital capacity continues to tighten, health officials are recommending everyone wear masks regardless. vaccination status in overcrowded places and indoor public spaces. For those who have not yet been vaccinated, health authorities encourage you to do so, as the delta variant is highly transmissible and can mean more serious illness, especially for those who have not yet received a vaccine.

In Spokane County, 55.4% of people aged 12 and over received at least one dose of the vaccine.

While breakthrough cases where fully vaccinated people test positive for the virus are very rare and hospitalizations and deaths are even rarer among fully vaccinated people, 27 of the 52 confirmed deaths from breakthrough cases so far are associated with outbreaks in healthcare facilities, according to state data.

People with underlying health conditions or who are immunocompromised are still at a higher risk of developing more serious illness if they contract COVID-19.

Some state hospitals and medical associations have recommended that hospitals require their employees to be vaccinated.

The Spokane Veterans Home is operated by the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, and although they are not bound by the Federal Veterans Administration’s vaccine requirements, the governor may impose a vaccination warrant in those areas. facilities.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s office is currently exploring the possibility of requiring state employees to be vaccinated, spokeswoman Tara Lee wrote in an email, adding that there was a lot of work to be done, involving the human resources of the state and other agencies.

“We share the concern that those who care for the vulnerable must protect themselves and others,” Lee wrote.

Inslee said last week that requiring vaccines for government employees is “a distinct possibility that we require to some extent the vaccination of our employees based on their job title and environment.”

The governor will likely hold a press conference early next week to say more, Lee said.

Here is an overview of local numbersThe Spokane Regional Health District reported 272 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths on Wednesday.

There are 85 patients hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District on Wednesday confirmed 128 new cases and no additional deaths.

There are 46 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

SR reporter Laurel Demkovich contributed to this report.