NORTH BEND QUARANTINE: Much Ado About (almost) Nothing

UPDATE | February 7th

The Public Information Officer from the Department of Health got back to me regarding my question regarding health care workers coming and going from the facility. They say “Health workers will be monitoring the health of quarantined folks and if they develop symptoms, they will be tested, cared for, and safely transported to a hospital. Quarantined individuals would have wraparound services (meals, medicine, phones, internet (hotspot), sanitation, hygiene, laundry). Deliveries would come from assigned state and Red Cross personnel as needed. DOH health staff will wear necessary PPE when appropriate, inside the quarantine area only. There is no risk to the public or to workers on site.”

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ORIGINAL STORY

“Let’s watch The Stand!” My better half said when the Coronavirus started to make news. “Sure,” I said, noting it was my favorite in the pandemic/end of the world genre, never thinking this story would hit close to home.

Finding out there would be a quarantine facility just out of North Bend at the Fire Training Academy was a little shocking – for all of us.  Local social media exploded with fear and very little information.  So, when I heard the media would be given a tour, I thought, “Well, I’m media” (sort of), and decided to go see what was going on for myself.

This morning, feeling a little nervous and inadequate, I navigated the windy road up to the Fire Training Academy just east of North Bend. I knew it was there, but never needed to find it before today. The perception online is that it is much too close to town for such a purpose. After all it is a mere 12.9 miles from downtown North Bend, which does seem awfully close – until you get off the freeway and start the drive.

Approximately 4.7 miles from the freeway ramp, the Academy is at the end of a long and windy narrow road. I saw no other cars or people and it took a good ten minutes to navigate there. Instantly I understood why this facility would be chosen as a good place to quarantine people away from the general population. Stephen King himself would likely be inspired by the location. I know several of his books crossed my overactive mind during the drive. Reaching a gate, I was buzzed in after identifying myself as a media person. I was instructed which way to go and to only go that way.

We were all shocked to hear about the quarantine being close by, but can you imagine being Chad Cross, commander of the academy, who found out during the half time show on Super Bowl Sunday? He, Chris Loftis -Washington State Patrol Communications Director, and Darren Wright -Sergeant, Headquarters Public Information Officer, found out over the weekend – shortly before the rest of us did.

Cross and Loftis spoke briefly, telling the small crowd of reporters how the FTA would be used if a need arises. Sea-Tac is one of 11 airports in the country where passengers who have traveled to the Hubei province in China within the last 14 days will be routed. In those locations, the US Government has enhanced screening procedures and the capacity to quarantine passengers, if needed. If a passenger is found to be sick, they will go to a hospital. If a passenger is asymptomatic and has a place to self-quarantine for 14 days, they will be allowed to do so. If they cannot, they will come to the Fire Training Academy for 14 days. If found to be well at the end of that time, they will continue on to their final destination.

According to the Washington State Patrol, “Travelers who are sick will NOT be placed in quarantine, they will be isolated from others and taken to the hospital”

FTA Dorm Room

Health care workers will be monitoring the health of the quarantined and if they are found to be ill, they will be transported to the hospital. One of the concerns locals have expressed was, will be the health care workers be coming and going from the facility and potentially frequenting Snoqualmie Valley shops and restaurants? I asked the question and was referred to the Department of Health. I have emailed them, but as of writing this, have not received an answer.

Officials also noted the number of travelers expected from Hubei into Sea-Tac is “low and may be zero.”

Fire Training Academy Dormitory

We were then given a tour of the dorm which can house approximately 14 people. The fire recruits that were there have been moved and none will be present when, and if, a quarantine patient is present. There are none there at the present time.

[If you would like to learn more about the virus you can visit the Department of Health’s webpage on the virus here.]

My takeaway from the whole experience is that it is a good place to house such people, and likely it will not be needed. The panic and anger observed in local Facebook groups during the past few days is just not necessary and everyone involved is doing everything they can to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy here in the Valley and beyond.

Comments

  1. STEVE HAAS says

    The average upper Snoqualmie valley resident is far more likely to die from run of the mill flu than the corona virus.
    The basic hygiene we’ve been been taught for years, but all too frequently fail to follow will serve all of us well.

  2. Bergschlawiner says

    How does this affect the heath of the students and staff at the FTA?

  3. It doesn’t. The recruits have been moved to a different facility they will not be present when and if a patient is housed there. It is primarily spread by “respiratory droplets” and isn’t thought to live on surfaces long

  4. Fuzzy Fletcher says

    Thank you for this story. I hope it clears concerns for those that have/had concerns. According to the CDC, 80,000 people died from the regular flu in 2017. I am much more worried about the regular flu then the Corona virus, as long as everybody does their part to help keep it from spreading.

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