Homeless man dies while staying at Kent Covid-19 isolation site

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KENT, Wash. -- A man in his 60s died this morning while staying at a former Kent motel that King County purchased to use as a coronavirus isolation site.

Officials did not say whether he died of complications from COVID-19. The death will be investigated by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The man moved to the Kent motel, which the county bought for isolation and quarantine for people with symptoms of COVID-19 but no place to isolate, on April 17, officials said in a news release.

Seventy people are now staying there.

“We are all saddened by the death of our guest,” said Leo Flor, director of the King County Department of Community and Human Services and Patty Hayes, director of Public Health – Seattle & King County in a statement. “We will continue to work around the clock to ensure that all King County residents, including those without a home, have a dignified place to be when receiving care for this virus.”

King County's decision to purchase the former Econo Lodge sparked outcry from the city of Kent and nearby residents. The city filed a lawsuit against the county to stop the isolation site from going up, but a judge sided with King County.

The county changed its policy at the isolation site after a homeless person who took a room there left the site, stole from a nearby convenience store then boarded a Metro bus in mid-March.

King County Public Health officials said the number of Covid-19 cases among the homeless community and people working in homeless services is on the rise. Seattle & King County Public Health announced 112 confirmed cases among the homeless community, including three deaths.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 12,085 confirmed Covid-19 cases statewide, with at least 652 deaths. Of those, 358 deaths were reported in King County.

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