Both in catching and in spreading it
The first case of the novel coronavirus in North Carolina has ties to a nursing home in Washington State that is currently at the center of a deadly outbreak of COVID-19.
The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health confirmed the presumptive positive finding but final results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are pending, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced on Tuesday.
The patient, from Wake County, “traveled to the state of Washington and was exposed at a long-term care facility where there is currently a COVID-19 outbreak,” officials said. “Local health department officials are identifying close contacts to monitor symptoms and contain [the] spread.”
The connection between the patient, who is “doing well and is in isolation at home,” and the nursing home wasn’t immediately clear.
All of the coronavirus-related fatalities in the U.S. — nine as of this writing — have occurred in Washington state. More specifically, the majority of cases in Washington involve patients who are residents of the Life Care Center in Kirkland, where there is currently an outbreak. Eight of the deaths have occurred in King County, where 21 of the cases are confirmed, while one of the fatalities occurred in Snohomish County, where six others have fallen ill, according to the state’s department of health.
Additionally, at least 27 firefighters and two police officers are quarantined – some of whom are showing possible COVID-19 symptoms – after responding to reports of patients falling ill at the nursing home.
Taking into account the fact that the disease is dangerous specifically to those who have underlying health issues, this means that nursing homes have serious potential to serve as a vector for the superbug. Both in regard to fatality rates and in regard to serving as incubators.
This means that nurses must take cleanliness and sanitation to a whole new level, let alone actually keeping to official standards. That may be sufficient for everyone else, but until this disease passes, nursing homes are extremely high risk and must be handled accordingly.
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