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5 staff, 8 clients of Morning Star Boys' Ranch in Spokane test positive for COVID-19

Four of the clients are asymptomatic, while five team members and two clients have coronavirus symptoms, according to Morning Star Boys' Ranch.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Morning Star Boys' Ranch in Spokane announced on Monday that five of its staff members and eight clients have tested positive for COVID-19.

The team members are employees of the Murphy House Therapeutic Behavioral Rehabilitation Residential Program, which has 23 beds for Washington state boys ages 6 to 13 who are in foster care. 

Four of the clients are asymptomatic, while five team members and two clients have symptoms that include chills, headache, nausea, loss of taste, fatigue and a low grade fever, according to spokesperson Kim Reasoner-Morin.

There have been zero hospitalizations for team members or clients, Reasoner-Morin said. 

According to Reasoner-Morin, Morning Star Boys' Ranch was notified on Monday, June 29, that the first team member had tested positive. Clients who were around the employee have been notified and tested for COVID-19, she said. 

“At this time, and due to the confidential nature of MSBR’s services, we honor the privacy of our team members and clients who have tested positive,” said MSBR Executive Director Audrea Marshall. “Swift action on the first employee’s part in notifying Human Resources regarding their positive test is preventing the spread of the virus to team members and clients. We could not be more grateful for their integrity and assistance in preventing community spread."

"We continue to monitor all team members and clients for symptoms to maintain the health and safety of those within the agency," Marshall added. "We are fortunate to have a separate wing (capacity building project completed in June 2020) at MSBR with its own HVAC system, restrooms, common area, and bedrooms for the clients who have tested positive, which will aid in containment of the virus.”

The ranch has taken steps based on local and state guidance since February to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including: 

  • Providing all team members within the four service programs with filter cloth masks and PPE.
  • Maintaining an eight-hour rotation of routinely disinfecting the facility, and one deep clean during the night shift
  • Adjusting on-site visits to telecommunications only.
  • Restricting visitors
  • No offsite activities for clients since May 2020
  • Approving all non-essential employees for telework to promote social distancing and minimize exposure to clients and team members
  • Authorizing licensing support from the Foster Care Coordinator to foster families via telecommunications.

With positive cases of COVID-19 at the Murphy House specifically, the ranch has taken steps to protect team members and clients that include: 

  • Continuing to restrict visitors
  • Restricting all clients from leaving the facility.
  • Providing all residential team members with N95 masks and PPE.
  • Directing team members who are symptomatic to stay home and self-quarantine 
  • Hourly general cleaning of high touch surfaces
  • Providing on-site housing for team members who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently working at the Murphy House
  • All clients that are not positive for COVID-19 are quarantined at MSBR
  • Maintaining a separate, isolated wing for clients who have tested positive to help prevent the spread of COVID-19

The Spokane Veterans Home reported the first coronavirus outbreak at a long-term care facility in Spokane County. A total of 10 residents there passed away after testing positive for coronavirus, either from the effects of COVID-19 or due to other medical conditions that were present prior to the diagnosis.

Forty-six residents of the Spokane Veterans Home tested positive for COVID-19, along with 23 staff members. The last positive test at the veterans home was reported on May 7, 2020.

RELATED: Sixth Spokane Veterans Home resident returns after recovering from coronavirus

There have been several other significant outbreaks in Spokane County since the pandemic began, including one at Borracho Tacos & Tequileria that has been connected to at least 46 COVID-19 cases. 

Another outbreak at the Philadelphia Macaroni Company, a pasta plant in Spokane, left dozens of workers infected with coronavirus. 

RELATED: 46 coronavirus cases now linked to outbreak at Spokane's Borracho