Grays Harbor Public Health officials Wednesday afternoon reported the county’s first case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a man in his 60s who is in isolation and receiving care at Grays Harbor Community Hospital.
The man did not travel outside the United States before becoming ill, according to a release from county Public Health.
Public Health is working with the patient’s family to identify and evaluate people who had close contact with him while he was contagious. Officials would not say what part of the county he lives in. Persons believed to be exposed will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days past their last exposure and report any symptoms to Public Health.
“We have expected and planned for this,” said Dr. John Bausher, the County’s Public Health Officer.
“The public health system works every day to track and follow up on cases of disease exposure. The virus is new, but the public health response is not,” he said.
In a news release late Wednesday, Grays Harbor Community Hospital said it was notified that day. The hospital said the person who tested positive for COVID-19 is a Grays Harbor County resident who had visited King County in February. The patient came to the hospital’s emergency department and was evaluated, admitted, and placed in a “droplet isolation room.” The individual is still in isolation and receiving care, the hospital said.
The hospital would release no details about the patient and said it wouldn’t unless it was imperative to protect public health.
The positive test was reported by the hospital’s commercial lab partner and is classified as a “presumptive positive” until it can be confirmed by the state public health laboratory or the CDC.
The hospital said it has six full isolation rooms for those who may become gravely ill from COVID-19.
” We do have the capability to care for more patients if necessary, through standard droplet isolation procedures. We are taking extra precautions in the cleaning of our facility,” the hospital said in a statement.
The hospital said it is now implementing limits on the number and types of visitors allowed into the facility in order to reduce the potential for infection from the outside.
A drive up window for COVID-19 testing for those with symptoms is being arranged at the hospital’s main campus at 915 Anderson Dr, Aberdeen. The hospital said it would make an announcement as soon as that service is available.
The risk of COVID-19 in Washington is increasing and Public Health expects that more cases will be identified now that the criteria for testing have broadened, said Brianne Probasco, Public Information Officer for COVID-19 Response.
The two Grays Harbor County residents who had been suspected last week of having COVID-19 received their test results and they tested negative for the disease, according to county Public Health.
As of Wednesday, there were 366 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths in the state according to the state Department of Health.
Moving forward, the county won’t report numbers of people being tested, Probasco said.
“In recent days, commercial labs have gained the ability to test for COVID-19. However, commercial labs are not required to go through the same testing notification process as the Public Health Laboratory in Shoreline. As a result, Grays Harbor Public Health is not notified about all of the tests for COVID-19 being conducted on our residents, just a portion of them,” she said.
They will, however, report confirmed cases of COVID-19 of county residents as they are notified of them, “regardless of which lab did the test,” she said.
“The decision of whether or not to test for COVID-19 is one made by the patient’s health care provider,” she added.
For more information about testing in Washington State, please visit https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/TestingforCOVID19
For the latest COVID-19 case counts in Washington State, please visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus