PORT ORCHARD — An additional five residents and two staff members have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus at the Washington Veterans Home at Retsil, the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs reported Wednesday.
On Aug. 13, the state agency said one of the skilled nursing care facility’s residents had died from complications of the virus and 24 had tested positive for the virus. On Aug. 16, the number of positive cases rose to 31 among the residents.
As of Wednesday, the number of residents testing positive stood at 41. Ten staff employees have been confirmed as having the COVID-19 virus. Heidi Audette, a spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs, said all residents have been tested and will continue to be tested “if symptoms are present, or every 3-7 days until 14 days have passed without a resident positive.”
In an updated news statement, Audette said all staff members at the Retsil facility are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Employees continue to be tested according to the requirements established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
She said additional environmental cleaning is being done at the facility and enhanced surveillance, including symptom and temperature checks during every shift, is being conducted for residents in affected areas for the next 14 days.
“We are in close contact with the Department of Health Infection Preventionist as well as the Local Health Departments to determine whether there are additional steps that can be taken.”
A few other isolated positive COVID-19 cases have been found in some other state veterans homes locations, including Spokane.
Last week, Audette said residential visits at Retsil have been suspended for a two-week period, with only “compassionate care” visits being allowed.
State and federal vaccination mandates for employees
Both Gov. Inslee announced on Wednesday that all public and private nursing home employees, and those working in other types of health care facilities, will be required to have their COVID-19 vaccinations in order to retain their jobs. That directive is to take effect on Oct. 18.
Also on Wednesday, President Biden issued a new policy requiring nursing home staff to be vaccinated. Facilities that don’t meet that mandate are at risk of losing federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. The new federal mandate could take effect as early as next month, according to the Associated Press.
As of Aug. 17, the Washington Veterans Home reported that 52% of its employees had received the COVID-19 vaccine.