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Fourteen employees at UW Medical Center’s Northwest campus test positive for COVID-19

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An ambulance sits outside of the UW Medical Center emergency room on April 1, 2020.

Healthcare workers have been at the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, making them particularly vulnerable to catching the deadly virus. This is ringing true at UW Medical Center’s Northwest campus, where 14 staffers have tested positive in the past couple weeks, according to a message to employees.

The campus, located just off Highway 99 and 115th St., first became aware of a small cluster of COVID-19 cases in one of its surgical units at the beginning of this month. It opened an investigation Apr. 6 after a third case was diagnosed. They then decided to test all the staff who worked in that unit, with nearly 100 staff undergoing “surveillance testing,” according to the announcement from two infectious disease experts at UW Medicine.

Eleven additional staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, during this process. The 36-bed surgical unit with the cluster of cases is not designated as one caring for patients confirmed to have the virus.

“Based on the results of our investigation, the transmission is believed to have occurred over several days at the end of March and was most likely transmitted from healthcare worker to healthcare worker,” the announcement says.

The message notes, however, “there is no evidence of transmission of the virus between patients and staff.”

The employees who tested positive have jobs ranging from nurses to therapists and are all recovering at home in stable condition, according to UW Medicine. The unit has been “deep-cleaned and sanitized” and physical distancing in common areas is being “strictly enforced.”

If they haven’t already been tested in the last 48 hours, the 14 patients hospitalized in that unit as of Tuesday are getting tested for COVID-19.

The Northwest campus of UW Medical Center has been testing all hospitalized patients upon admission since early April, a policy instituted this week at the system’s flagship Montlake campus.

KOMO TV first reported the cluster of cases Monday.

Outside of these 14 cases, 53 members of the UW community have tested positive for COVID-19, including 23 students, six faculty and other academic personnel, and 23 staff members, according to the university’s environmental health & safety department.

Reach News Editor Jake Goldstein-Street at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet

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