Staff members at three Washington state nursing homes attended a massive wedding with more than 300 guests last month, and now at least seven residents at the facilities have died from COVID-19, health officials said.
The residents were all in their 70s, 80s or 90s and at higher risk for severe complications if infected with COVID-19. Four additional deaths at two of the facilities are pending death certificate reviews, the Grant County Health District said Thursday.
“Our hearts are with the families and friends of these residents. On behalf of our staff, Grant County Health Officer and Board of Health, we are so sorry for your loss,” the health department said in a statement.
It isn’t known whether the staff members had direct contact with the people who died as the staff members care for entire units, the health department said.
The facilities were identified as McKay Healthcare & Rehab Center in Soap Lake, Lake Ridge Center in Moses Lake and Columbia Crest Center, also in Moses Lake.
News of the deaths came after hundreds attended the Nov. 7 superspreader event near Ritzville, southwest of Spokane. Within 10 days, nearly 40 people who attended the wedding tested positive for the coronavirus in nearby Grant County.
Local health officials also linked those cases to two subsequent outbreaks in the area, as well spikes in positive tests for the coronavirus at one long-term care facility and at a school district.
November’s additional deaths raised the county’s total coronavirus fatalities to 54 since March.
County health officials continued to urge residents to stay home as much as possible to help lower the risk of infection among the most vulnerable residents.
“Your choice to gather with those outside your household could lead to additional cases of COVID-19 and even death. Please protect those you love by staying home,” the health department said.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee last month imposed new social restrictions after the state’s average number of coronavirus cases doubled over two weeks.
The restrictions, which last until Dec. 14, limit outdoor social gatherings to no more than five people from outside a household. They prohibit all indoor gatherings involving people from outside households unless the individuals agree to quarantine for 14 days prior to a gathering, obtain a negative COVID-19 test no more than 48-hours beforehand or quarantine for seven days afterward.
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