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Western State Hospital employee

When COVID-19 got a toehold at Life Care Center of Kirkland, the results were devastating. Thirty-five people associated with that one facility have died, accounting for roughly half the deaths from the aggressive virus in Washington.

But it’s not just nursing homes and assisted living facilities, with their older and sicker populations, that are at heightened risk for a coronavirus outbreak. Any communal facility where a group of people are living, eating and sleeping together – from homeless shelters to group homes to jails and prisons to state mental hospitals – is a potential breeding ground for the virus.

Courtesy Tammie Corter

It’s been more than a year since the state Department of Social and Health Services took the unprecedented step of shutting down a major in-home care provider for developmentally disabled adults.

Now, 16 months after the provider’s sister company, Aacres Washington, took over care of many of those vulnerable adults, the cycle is repeating itself.