One of four COVID-19 quarantine sites will be located in the Top Hat neighborhood of White Center, King County officials announced on Tuesday (March 3).
The location will house up to 32 rooms using 14 modular units, which will be used to quarantine and isolate people who are infected with the novel coronavirus. As many as eight of those units will be located on county-owned land at 206 SW 112th St. in unincorporated King County.
The county is hoping to have the location fully running within 10 days. Executive Services Deputy Communication Manager Barbara Ramey said that they hope to have the first modular unit (which includes four two-bed rooms, each with a toilet, shower, sink and a window) functional by the end of the week. The utilities will likely take longer. In the interim, the county has portable toilets on site.
Walking toward the first modular unit, which still sits on a raised platform, King County Department of Local Services Communications Manager Jerry Plonk says he’s lives in these units before — when he was serving in Afghanistan.
“Once they get the electricity and the water set up, (they’re good),” Plonk said.
The county originally got the modular units out of Texas, where oil rig workers had lived in them. Each room including the bathroom is about 65 square feet, Plonk estimates.
The White Center property has been owned by the county for some time. On the site is an empty worn down office building that will be demolished to fit the additional modular units. That demolition date is not set yet, Ramey said. Unincorporated county-owned parcels were the most efficient option to getting these units up and running, she said.
Once the site is up-and-running, Public Health officials will assist those in quarantine. The units do not appear to have food storage space or refrigerators.
Another quarantine location will be established in Seattle, but a location for the 24-room site has not yet been released. Similarly, a location has not been given for a motel that the county is purchasing for quarantine efforts. The motel will have at least 50 rooms, and its location will be announced Wednesday.
In total, the county is hoping to have more than 100 quarantine and isolation rooms for those who become infected. Ramey said if needed the county will continue to work on more locations and identify other potential sites.
County budget director Dwight Dively presented the plans March 3 to the King County Council. Dively said most people who come down with the virus will be able to quarantine themselves at home. The facilities will be for those who can’t.
It was unclear how long people could be quarantined, but the incubation period for the virus can be as long as 14 days.
A fourth facility will be set up and function as a recovery facility. This 72-bed location will be more like barracks, Dively said. It will not be used for quarantine.
State and local governments have been scrambling to respond to the outbreak, which could have been circulating in the state for as long as six weeks. Since late February, nine people have died in the state: eight in King County and one in Snohomish County. Several more people have fallen ill.