Two die of COVID-19 in Tacoma nursing homes

TACOMA, Wash. — Using Facebook live, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department revealed details about the deaths of a man and a woman in two separate long-term care facilities who had contracted the coronavirus.

“We are here to share the sad news about COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities here in the county today,” said Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Board chair Catherine Ushka.

“It’s a very sad day in the city of Tacoma,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards.

One of the dead is identified as a Tacoma woman in her 90s, the other a Key Peninsula man in his 80s, both had underlying health conditions that made them more vulnerable to COVID-19, according to health department officials. The woman died at the Heartwood Extended Health Care facility in south Tacoma the man at Avamere Puget Sound Transitional Care on the city's west side. Other residents have tested positive as well.

“Between the two facilities we have 78 positive cases between residents and staff,” said health department Assistant Division Director for Communicable Disease Control Stephanie Dunkel.

The health department had more than a thousand COVID-19 tests left over after drive-thru testing two weeks ago. Officials said those left over tests were used to help track down coronavirus cases among vulnerable people in nursing homes.

“We made sure an allocation of that went to help support investigations in nursing home and long-term care facilities,” said department director of public health Dr. Anthony Chen.