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Additional testing capacity, adjustments at King County jails, and other COVID-19 updates from Public Health - Seattle & King County for March 20, 2020

Summary

Additional testing capacity for COVID-19 is arriving, but capacity is still constrained, and King County correctional facilities are taking steps to increase social distancing. Public Health announced 100 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the official case count in King County to 793. In addition, seven new deaths are reported, bringing the total of confirmed deaths in King County to 67.

Story

Availability of COVID-19 testing

This week, King County is receiving 4,000 sample collection test kits from the federal government to address the highest priority testing needs in our community. Testing capacity is expanding through commercial laboratories, and it is better today than it was a few days ago. Still, we continue to experience gaps with test kits in the areas of our highest priorities, including for first responders, health care workers, healthcare systems serving those at highest risk, and others at highest risk who don’t have regular access to health services. Public Health will be deploying these additional sample collection kits to make sure these priority groups have the supplies they need.

In King County and Washington state, health care providers are advised to focus limited testing capacity on people at highest risk and with more concerning symptoms. At this time, it's not possible to test everyone who we would like to see tested or who wants to be tested, especially those with mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

For people who have or think they have COVID-19:

Prioritizing jail bed space to promote social distancing

The King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention is working with its partners in the criminal justice system – courts, King County Department of Public Defense, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Department of Corrections, and law enforcement – to prioritize jail beds for those who pose the greatest risk to public safety. That will help ensure that the Jail Health Services staff has the adequate space they need to provide care for those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, King County correctional facilities are not accepting people who are arrested for violating the terms of their state Department of Corrections (DOC) community supervision. They are also working with DOC to transfer anyone who is in a King County correctional facility on a DOC warrant back to state custody. By the end of next week, this could result in all 180 people in custody for DOC warrants transferring back to DOC custody.

Jail leadership has also asked law enforcement to prioritize booking people into correctional facilities for violent crimes against people during the pandemic, to create more opportunities and space in our correctional facilities for increased social distancing as advised by Public Health—Seattle & King County.

There were 1,766 people in custody at adult correctional facilities Thursday, down from 1,940 on March 1. The county is exploring all options to further reduce the number of people in custody as quickly and safely as possible for the health of the entire community.

For additional details regarding correctional sites, please visit: www.kingcounty.gov/dajd

Case updates

Public Health—Seattle & King County is reporting the following confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/19/20.

  • 793 confirmed cases (up 100 from yesterday)
  • 67 confirmed deaths  (up 7 from yesterday)

These additional deaths include:

  • A man in his 80s, who died on 3/19
  • A woman in her 90s, who died on 3/17
  • A man in his 70s, who died on 3/18
  • A woman in her 80s. who died on 3/18
  • A woman in her 70s, whose date of death has not been confirmed
  • A man in his 70s, who died on 3/19 at Valley Medical Center
  • A woman in her 60s, who died on 3/19 at Harborview Medical Center

Of the 67 deaths reported, 35 are confirmed to be associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland.