Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the woman came into contact with a Salvation Army volunteer.
A woman in her 30s is the third confirmed COVID-19 case in Cowlitz County and is recovering at home, health officials said Monday, and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center said it hopes to offer drive-through testing once it works out the complex effort.
A Longview Salvation Army volunteer came into contact with the woman, said Christine Schott, chair of the Salvation Army local advisory board. But local Salvation Army officials would not comment on the situation and Northwest Division public relations staff said they did not have more information as of Monday evening.
The Cowlitz County Health and Human Services Department said it is working to identify close contacts of all confirmed cases, which could include family members and coworkers. Close contacts will be instructed to stay home for 14 days after their last interactions with the confirmed cases, according to the department.
On Friday, the health department reported the county’s first two confirmed cases — those of a man in his 70s and a man in his 60s. Both men were treated in isolation at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center and released home.
In another local coronavirus development St. John is working to implement drive-through testing, said Randy Querin, hospital spokesman.
But the program didn’t have a start date as of Monday. St. John has acquired a mobile trailer for the testing and identified a site for it. However, Querin said there are “many logistical hurdles still in place, including acquiring needed equipment, supplies and staffing.”
At this time the hospital is “adequately stocked” with personal protective equipment, including face masks, gloves and medical gowns, but it is working with vendors to replenish the supply, Querin said. Hospitals and providers nationwide are saying they are critically short of personal protective equipment, but St. John has not had many cases and flu season has been relatively modest.
The hospital took a “bit of a blow” late last week when elastic on its reserve of 6,000 face masks started failing, Querin said. Hospital officials are trying to find out if the elastic can be replaced, he said. St. John is “marshaling reserves” and significantly reducing procedures and appointments to conserve supplies, he said.
Querin said the hospital is “gratefully” accepting donations of personal protective equipment, but not handmade items right now. St. John’s infection prevention team is studying what standards homemade equipment would have to meet, including using certain designs and materials, he said.
Three Cowlitz County business, Pacific Tech Construction, Jammie’s Environmental Inc. and H&N Sheet Metal, have donated N95 masks to the hospital, Querin said.
The St. John Medical Center Foundation is working on a process to accept more donations from the community.
“We just don’t know how big this will be or how much we’ll need,” Querin said. “If there’s anyone out there who panicked and bought themselves a case of masks… we would appreciate that donation. We could use anything anyone could donate.”
People who believe they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should watch for symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. They should stay home for 14 days, according to the state Department of Health. Anyone who gets sick after contact with a COVID-19 case should isolate at home and stay away from other people, according to the department. People 60 or older, pregnant or with medical conditions should tell their doctor’s office they were exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Not everyone with COVID-19 symptoms needs to be tested, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Testing is limited because of low supplies and laboratory capacity, according to the Department of Health.
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