COVID-19 outbreak being investigated at Regency

18 people have tested positive for coronavirus at a long-term care facility in Oak Harbor.

A total of 14 residents and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Regency on Whidbey, a long-term care facility in Oak Harbor, according to Island County Public Health.

Public Health Director Keith Higman said the first case was detected Nov. 9. He added that since then, the facility’s staff has had good control of who has been in the building.

Regency on Whidbey declined to comment at this time and referred the News-Times to its Facebook page.

In a Facebook post from Nov. 20, Executive Director Wilma Jo Flaherty wrote in a letter to the community that residents in the memory care building have tested positive for the virus.

“We are continuing to monitor residents in both memory care and assisted living each day,” Flaherty wrote in Regency on Whidbey’s Facebook post. “We have tested all our residents and staff in both buildings and will continue to do this until further notice.”

Visitors will continue to not be allowed and assisted living residents are encouraged to stay inside their homes.

As of Friday, Island County had 555 cases of the virus recorded. Over the weekend, Higman said 41 new cases were added to that total.

Virus case numbers have kept steadily climbing throughout the county, with the biggest notable increases happening in Oak Harbor, which some residents have referred to as “terrifying.”

“It should not be a surprise at all that Oak Harbor seems to experience a much higher increase in cases,” Higman said, pointing to the city as being Whidbey’s “population center.”

More communicable diseases, he added, are spread in urban areas rather than rural ones.

“We’re seeing the rate of disease and number of cases increasing pretty dramatically from where we were in August,” Higman said.

He said it was normal to see about two new cases per week in August, whereas now 20 new cases per day have become the new norm.

Besides Regency on Whidbey, the county health department is not investigating any other outbreaks. Of the new batch of cases that came in over the weekend, Higman said 10 were military service members or their family members.

No businesses are being investigated as the source of an outbreak, either. Higman pointed out that it’s likely the virus is being contracted through social gatherings.

“We have to presume that it’s contact people are having while they’re not at work or at businesses,” he said.