As coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeps across America, residents of all 50 states cope with the spread of the disease in their own ways. In Kirkland, Washington, parents try to protect their children by keeping them at home instead of letting them play outside. Over two dozen firefighters are still in quarantine in the city.
Life in Kirkland has changed a lot since coronavirus spread across the once-thriving city. These days, people refrain from shaking hands, and restaurants are almost always empty. The suburb, which has a population of 90,000 and is located just east of Seattle, which was once famous for its breath-taking lakefront views, is now the epicenter of coronavirus.
Out of the 11 recorded U.S. deaths from coronavirus, eight were residents of Life Care Center (LCC), a local nursing home in the city. LCC associates are struggling to care for others who may have been infected at the nursing home. Reports reveal that another death has occurred at a Kirkland hospital.
On Thursday, March 5, Seema Verma, head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that the agency would be deploying inspectors to LCC. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were also sent to the nursing home to determine how coronavirus spread and whether LCC adhered to guidelines for preventing infections.
In April 2019, the state fined LCC $67,000 due to infection-control deficiencies after two flu outbreaks that affected 17 patients and staff. Verma added that an unannounced follow-up inspection in June of the same year confirmed that LCC took action to address the issue.
Hamid Dabbaghian, a 48-year-old cashier at Whole Foods in the city, expressed regret at not being able to show affection to his kids. Dabbaghian, who recently moved to Kirkland from Iran, is afraid that he might catch coronavirus and that he might then accidentally infect his children. He noted that as someone who has recently moved to America, he’s very concerned about what might happen to his family if he does get infected.
Other Kirkland residents are either “nonchalant or fatalistic.” While they are sympathetic to those who lost their lives due to coronavirus, they don’t see the point of letting the disease put their own lives to a halt. Doug Evanson, a 57-year-old Uber driver, doesn’t think he needs to stock up on drinking water when his home has a tap. Evanson frequently drives healthcare workers at LCC.
Kirkland, an upscale suburb on the east shore of Lake Washington, offers visitors beautiful sunset views over the water. Downtown Kirkland is also home to art galleries, a marina and a Little League baseball field. On February 29, Saturday, residents found out that a man in his 50s died from coronavirus the day before at Kirkland’s EvergreenHealth Medical Center. The patient also had underlying health conditions.
Last week, the country thought this was the first U.S. death from the coronavirus outbreak. However, officials soon announced that two infected residents of LCC succumbed to the disease two days earlier. Panic spread as national news crews honed in on the nursing home for updates. The now quarantined firefighters were previously called to LCC to transport critically ill patients to the hospital.
Stores in Kirkland then quickly ran out of canned goods, disinfectants, water, toilet paper and other supplies while residents scrambled to stock up for a possible quarantine. (Related: Would you pay $400 for hand sanitizer? Amazon should stop price gouging amidst coronavirus panic-buying, urges US lawmaker.)
Silas Kropp, a 43-year-old who lives near LCC, fears the city’s current situation. Television reporters are on stand-by at LCC for updates on the nursing home and the condition of its staff and residents.
Residents with loved ones at LCC are worried since the facility isn’t answering their inquiries.
On March 4, Wednesday, six LCC residents and a woman who works at the nursing home were hospitalized in Kirkland. Officials reported that some of the patients were in critical condition. This Monday, the city announced that two police officers and 27 firefighters, which is a quarter of Kirkland’s Fire Department, were quarantined.
The police officers and the two dozen firefighters were exposed to patients from LCC. Officials advised residents to stay calm. To prevent the spread of coronavirus, it is crucial to stay at home when sick, avoid contact with sick people and wash hands frequently.
On March 3, Tuesday, America’s death toll increased to nine, with eight of the patients being residents from Kirkland. Katya Difani, an herbalist and the owner of Herban Wellness, a downtown store selling natural remedies, reports that her sales increased by 70 percent since Saturday. Difani noted that more residents are purchasing immunity boosters and natural sanitizing spray. She added that customers tell her they aren’t panic buying. Rather, they’re preparing before SHTF.
Don’t waste time worrying about what your non-prepper neighbors might say. Now’s the time to put your prepping skills and survival stockpile to good use.