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caption: An unidentified patient is transported into an ambulance from the Life Care Center of Kirkland, the long-term care facility at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state, on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Kirkland. It is unclear if the patient is suspected of having coronavirus. 
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An unidentified patient is transported into an ambulance from the Life Care Center of Kirkland, the long-term care facility at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state, on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Kirkland. It is unclear if the patient is suspected of having coronavirus.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

'Volatile and unpredictable': Life Care Center speaks publicly for the first time since COVID-19 outbreak

The Life Care Center in Kirkland provided insight into the location where most of Washington's COVID-19 deaths have come from.

It's the first time the company has communicated publicly about the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our experience with this so far is that this virus has been shown to be volatile and unpredictable,” said Tim Killian, a public liaison for Life Care Center.

“Everything we’ve learned so far is that we know very little about how this virus will act,” he said, noting that the virus has acted swiftly in many cases with patients going from showing no symptoms to being rushed to a hospital in an hour.

Days leading up to the coronavirus outbreak at Life Care Center in Kirkland

“We need more test kits, we still don’t have enough test kits for all the residents here,” he added. “…we need more employees, they tell us more are coming so we are grateful for that as well.”

Life Care released numbers related to the facility, its residents, and cases of COVID-19 associated with the center. Life Care Center chose Feb. 19 to begin reporting data since that is the first date a patient was transferred out of the building and later tested positive for COVID-19.

  • Life Care Center was provided 45 test kits on Thursday – there are currently more than 60 residents in the building. They are awaiting results of those tests. Staff have not been tested, though officials would like to test them.
  • On Feb. 19, there were 120 residents at Life Care in Kirkland; 54 have now been transported to local hospitals.
  • There are 63 residents still at the facility; six show symptoms of COVID-19.
  • A total of 18 people at Life Care Center have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • There have been 26 deaths at Life Care Center since Feb. 19, which includes 15 patients who have died in local hospitals – 13 of these cases tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Since Feb. 19, 11 additional patients have died within the facility. There are no reports back yet on if those 11 deaths were related to coronavirus.
  • In a “regular month” the facility sees 3-7 deaths.
  • As of Feb. 19, Life Care had 180 employees at its Kirkland location –70 now show symptoms of the virus. Those employees were asked to stay home.

Killian said that residents who show symptoms are being monitored. If they show acute symptoms, they are transferred to a hospital. He also said that residents are being asked to stay in their rooms.

Only essential staff are allowed inside the facility now. But concern remains about the many people who freely entered and left Life Care while coronavirus was circulating inside and who could be unwittingly spreading disease into the community. Killian did not have any information about people who have previously frequented the center.

'We demand answers.' Families connected to coronavirus-affected care center in Kirkland speak out

Cheri Chandler of Kirkland said her parents self-quarantined at home after attending a crowded Mardi Gras party inside the Life Care Center on one of several visits to a friend there. That friend is now in isolation at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland.

“Nobody has even reached out to my parents,” Chandler told reporters gathered outside Life Care.

“There are many visitors to this center that have not been contacted,” she said. “This is something that has fallen through the cracks.”