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After coronavirus outbreaks at Salish Lodge and UW's Greek row, King County urges greater vigilance

Coronavirus cases in King County last week were up 40% from the previous week, said Dr. Jeff Duchin, head of Public Health – Seattle & King County.

SEATTLE — After two coronavirus clusters in King County hit the news in the past week, the county's public health chief said people need to maintain their precautions.

King County is averaging 119 coronavirus cases a day last week which is up 40% from the previous week, said Dr. Jeff Duchin, head of Public Health  – Seattle & King County.

"We are heading into a time where the risk for a serious COVID-19 outbreak, that could be significantly larger than what we've seen so far, is real,” he said.

University of Washington officials say 117 positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among nearly a dozen sorority and fraternity and organizations. That number had risen over the week.

Also last week, a cluster of cases was reported at the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie, where 23 staff members and two guests tested positive for coronavirus.

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak at UW's Greek row sickens at least 104 students

RELATED: Guests at Salish Lodge & Spa may need testing after September COVID-19 outbreak

The King County numbers appear to be on the rise.

Since March, there have been 22,560 cases, 2,378 hospitalizations and 758 deaths in King County.

As numbers trend up again, health experts say it is important to keep wearing masks and social distancing because the possibility of even an average flu season compounding with coronavirus is potentially a huge threat to the healthcare system, Duchin said.

Contact Tracing

University spokesperson Victor Balta said Friday that university organizations and Public Health – Seattle & King County are working to ensure Greek residents and others who frequent the houses are engaged in containing the outbreak.

Meanwhile, those who might have been affected at Salish Lodge and Spa say they have yet to be contacted.

Patrick Harrison stayed there last month, and said no one initially reached out to inform him. His sister-in-law saw a news report about it and told him.

“Even though you don't think I have come in contact, why wouldn't you be aggressive, and actually communicate and let me make that decision. You don't make that decision for me,” Harrison said.

Salish Lodge and Spa's General Manager, Alan Stephens, says the resort is working closely with local health agencies and contact tracing for those who were in close contact with employees who have received positive test results.

“We didn't see an instance where our guest and team member interaction met that criteria,” Stephens said.

Stephens adds that they have safety protocols in place including strict cleaning rules along with health screenings and testing available for employees.

“We voluntarily decided for the health and safety of all of our guests and all of our team members to temporarily suspend operations until October 7th,” Stephens added.

Anyone who visited the Salish Lodge & Spa from Sept. 16 through Sept. 30, either as an overnight guest or day visitor to the Lodge, restaurant, spa or gift shop, should get tested for COVID-19, health officials said.

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