Three more deaths from COVID-19 complications in the three-city area were reported by the Benton Franklin Health District on Tuesday, bringing the total to 21.
In more encouraging news, testing supplies for the new coronavirus are now no longer available.
And more capabilities to run tests, including rapid tests that deliver results in minutes, should be available in the coming weeks, according to the health district.
The Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland previously said it had equipment and was looking for supplies for new rapid coronavirus tests in its hospital and clinics.
The test is being validated in the Tri-Cities and should be available soon for hospital and non-hospital patients in the Tri-Cities, said Dr. Amy Person, health manager for the Benton Franklin Health District.
Similar to a streptococcal test, the results should be returned in a few minutes, not a few days, she said.
In addition, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Department of Energy research laboratory in Richland, is working to start analyzing test samples in addition to research, she said.
The tests, although more readily available in the past week in the Tri-Cities area, still do not come close to the level of testing in many other counties, said the local health worker.
The number of known cases in the three-city region jumped about 18% from Monday to Tuesday, with increased testing being one possible factor in the increase.
COVID-19 in the elderly
Seniors in Tri-Cities continue to be severely affected by the new coronavirus.
Two-thirds of the deaths in Benton and Franklin counties occurred in facilities for the aged, said Rick Dawson, a senior manager at the local health district.
The number of cases among residents and staff of institutions for the aged – including retirement homes, nursing homes and other long-term care homes – rose to 109 Tuesday from 104 the day before.
Only three state counties reported more deaths on Monday than Benton County. They were King with 220, Snohomish with 55 and Whatcom with 19. There is a slight delay in the state report of deaths by county.
The Tri-Cities area has a significantly higher percentage of cases in people over 80 than the state as a whole, said the local health official.
Seniors are at high risk of developing life-threatening complications from COVID-19.
Across the state, about 10 percent of cases involve people 80 and older, and in Benton and Franklin counties, they account for 17 percent of cases, she said.
The most recent deaths included two women from Benton County in the 1980s and a woman from Franklin County, also in the 1980s.
The total number of deaths now includes five people aged 90, eight aged 80, four aged 70 and four aged 60.
Total cases in the region of the three cities
The number of known cases in the two counties increased to 374 Tuesday, against 316 Monday, an increase of 18%.
Benton County had 226 cases and Franklin County had 98 cases, according to Tuesday’s report.
Benton County has 176 confirmed cases with the new coronavirus and 50 additional probable cases where no tests have been done, but people have developed symptoms after close contact with someone whose test was positive.
Franklin County cases include 70 test-confirmed cases and 28 additional probable cases.
The Benton Franklin Health District has reported probable cases due to a shortage of supplies to test patients for COVID-19 in the Tri-Cities area, causing an inaccurate picture of the number of cases.
As tests increased, the state health department and the Benton Franklin Health District struggled to keep up with negative test results and local test figures were not available in recent days.
The health district has 26 staff and volunteers responsible for identifying close contacts of new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 to alert those with whom they were in contact that they may have been exposed and should self-identify. in quarantine.
The number of known cases among health facility workers remained at 72 on Tuesday. They may be workers in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes or other long-term care homes.
Long-term care cases
The number of cases among staff and residents of long-term care homes and retirement homes increased from 104 Monday to 109 Tuesday.
To prevent cases from spreading to new facilities, screening in retirement and long-term care homes has become a priority, said Person.
Cases have been reported in six establishments, with no additional establishments added to the list on Tuesday.
Regency Canyon Lakes of Kennewick had 45 cases and Life Care Center of Richland had 40 cases. Both are nursing homes, providing long-term care to some of the region’s most vulnerable residents.
Bonaventure Senior Living of Richland had 13 cases, Solstice Senior Living of Kennewick had eight cases, Affinity at Southridge in Kennewick had two cases and Parkview Estates in Kennewick had one case.
Tests and supplies
Driving tests have not yet been conducted in the Tri-Cities, but may be implemented in the future, said Dawson.
However, he warned that driving tests usually require a doctor’s or other health professional’s prescription and an appointment.
Kadlec already has a system similar to driving tests.
He offers tests of all of his hospital and clinical patients who have a health care provider order in a tent set up at Kadlec Urgent Care at 4804 W. Clearwater Ave., Kennewick, on weekdays.
The shortage of personal protective equipment for health workers has been eased for some, with a shipment of supplies from the state, but they may not last long.
Washington State sent 24,000 surgical masks, 1,400 gowns and 1,200 N95 respirators earlier this week to be distributed to hospital workers and first responders, said Deanna Davis, emergency department manager County Emergency Department.
However, this supply could last only a few days, she said.
The public continues to be invited to donate supplies, with the need for masks and masks being the greatest need, she said.
They can be dropped off at Franklin County Emergency Management, 1011 E. Ainsworth St., Pasco. It was open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or people can call 509-545-3546 to schedule a time to drop off the donations.
The Tri-Cities area appears to have an adequate, if not plentiful, supply of ventilators for the most critically ill COVID-19 patients currently, said Dawson, based on reports from local hospitals.
The three Tri-Cities hospitals did not respond to Herald’s requests for specific information about their ventilator supply.
If the pandemic eases in west Washington, where it struck earlier, some ventilators could be moved to the three-city area, said Dawson.
Pic des Tri-Cities?
COVID-19 cases may have already peaked or may peak this week in parts of western Washington, where the epidemic first started in the state, but it is too early to say when cases could peak in the Tri-Cities region, according to health officials. .
It is also too early to say if residents of the Tri-Cities area will comply with a recommendation made by the health district on Friday to wear face covers in public places where they may be within six feet of people, said Dawson.
But there is anecdotal evidence that residents spend less time in public places, he said. Traffic has gone down, he said.
The best way to slow the spread of the new coronavirus is to stay six feet away from people you don’t live with, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, don’t touch your face, and wear a cloth mask or other coating for the nose and mouth. public, said Dawson.
The limited supply of N95 respirators and surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders who may have close contact with people infected with the new coronavirus.