JOURNAL ARTICLE

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Among Residents and Staff Members of an Independent and Assisted Living Community for Older Adults - Seattle, Washington, 2020

Alison C Roxby, Alexander L Greninger, Kelly M Hatfield, John B Lynch, Timothy H Dellit, Allison James, Joanne Taylor, Libby C Page, Anne Kimball, Melissa Arons, Laura A Schieve, Albert Munanga, Nimalie Stone, John A Jernigan, Sujan C Reddy, James Lewis, Seth A Cohen, Keith R Jerome, Jeffrey S Duchin, Santiago Neme
MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2020 April 10, 69 (14): 416-418
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In the Seattle, Washington metropolitan area, where the first case of novel coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) in the United States was reported (1), a community-level outbreak is ongoing with evidence of rapid spread and high morbidity and mortality among older adults in long-term care skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) (2,3). However, COVID-19 morbidity among residents of senior independent and assisted living communities, in which residents do not live as closely together as do residents in SNFs and do not require skilled nursing services, has not been described. During March 5-9, 2020, two residents of a senior independent and assisted living community in Seattle (facility 1) were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 infection; on March 6, social distancing and other preventive measures were implemented in the community. UW Medicine (the health system linked to the University of Washington), Public Health - Seattle & King County, and CDC conducted an investigation at the facility. On March 10, all residents and staff members at facility 1 were tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and asked to complete a questionnaire about their symptoms; all residents were tested again 7 days later. Among 142 residents and staff members tested during the initial phase, three of 80 residents (3.8%) and two of 62 staff members (3.2%) had positive test results. The three residents had no symptoms at the time of testing, although one reported an earlier cough that had resolved. A fourth resident, who had negative test results in the initial phase, had positive test results 7 days later. This resident was asymptomatic on both days. Possible explanations for so few cases of COVID-19 in this residential community compared with those in several Seattle SNFs with high morbidity and mortality include more social distancing among residents and less contact with health care providers. In addition, early implementation of stringent isolation and protective measures after identification of two COVID-19 cases might have been effective in minimizing spread of the virus in this type of setting. When investigating a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in senior independent and assisted living communities, symptom screening is unlikely to be sufficient to identify all persons infected with SARS-CoV-2. Adherence to CDC guidance to prevent COVID-19 transmission in senior independent and assisted living communities (4) could be instrumental in preventing a facility outbreak.

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