SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — A second person has died from coronavirus in King County, Washington state health officials confirmed Sunday. Both deaths are the only reported fatalities in the U.S. as of Sunday evening.
Researchers said the virus may have been circulating for weeks undetected in the greater Seattle area.
The governor of Washington declared a state of emergency Saturday after a man died there from COVID-19, the first such reported death in the United States. More than 50 people in a nursing facility are sick and being tested for the virus.
Both of the people who died in King County were men over 50 with underlying conditions, public health officials told KPIX affiliate KIRO. The man who died on Sunday was a King County resident in his 70s. The man was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland with underlying health conditions.
Gov. Jay Inslee directed state agencies to use “all resources necessary” to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The declaration also allows the use of the Washington National Guard, if necessary.
“We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus,” the governor vowed.
When the man died Friday, it was the first death in the United States of the illness that has infected more than 85,000 people globally and caused more than 2,900 deaths since emerging in China.
The man who died was in his 50s, had underlying health conditions and no history of travel or contact with a known COVID-19 case, health officials in Washington state said at a news conference. A spokesperson for EvergreenHealth Medical Center, Kayse Dahl, said the person died in the facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland.
Dr. Frank Riedo, medical director of Infection Control at Evergreen, said local hospitals are seeing people with severe coronavirus symptoms but it’s probable that there are more cases in the community.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
The health officials reported two cases of COVID-19 virus connected to a long-term care facility in the same suburb, Life Care Center of Kirkland. One is a Life Care worker, a woman in her 40s who is in satisfactory condition at a hospital, and the other is a woman in her 70s and a resident at Life Care who is hospitalized in serious condition. Neither have traveled out of the country.
“In addition, over 50 individuals associated with Life Care are reportedly ill with respiratory symptoms or hospitalized with pneumonia or other respiratory conditions of unknown cause and are being tested for COVID-19,” Seattle and King County officials said. “Additional positive cases are expected.”
There have been more than 63 confirmed cases reported in the United States. In Northern California, there are 29 cases including evacuees from China or the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were airlifted to Travis Air Force Base.
On a Saturday conference call with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there was mention of as many as four cases of coronavirus linked to community spread and not travel to China or on a cruise ship. Two cases of possible community spread have been reported in Northern California and one in Oregon.
Addressing the patient’s death President Donald Trump told Americans not to alter their daily routines, saying “there’s no reason to panic at all.”
He added he wasn’t altering his routine either. “You’re talking about 22 people right now in this whole very vast country. I think we’ll be in very good shape.”
Trump also said additional travel restrictions would also likely put into place for travel to Italy and Iran. Commercial airlines had already announced cuts to flights to South Korea out of San Francisco International airport. All flights to China have already been suspended.
News of the death sent a shiver though the San Francisco Bay Area which has been at the epicenter of the battle with the illness in the United States for more than a month.
Two patients in Northern California were being treated for contracting the virus from an unknown source — they have not traveled to China, been in contact with anyone how had nor been on a cruise ship. One of the patients was in Santa Clara County and the second a Solano County woman who was being treated at UC Davis Medical Center.
Eight other local cases have been confirmed and have either been treated at Bay Area hospitals or forced into home quarantine.
There have been 24 cases from either the evacuees of the Diamond Princess airlifted to Travis or from earlier flights out of China. Of those, 19 were being treated at hospitals across the Bay Area.
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COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
On Friday, Santa Clara County health officials announced their third confirmed coronavirus case — the second instance in the U.S. of community transmission of the virus from an unknown origin.
The county health department said this latest coronavirus case – an woman with chronic health conditions – has no known connection to travel in countries most affected by the virus or close contact with a known infected individual.
The development indicates the virus spreading among two separate populations within Northern California. In a prepared statement, county health officials declared that “now is the time to prepare for the possibility of widespread community transmission.”
“Her physician called us on Wednesday night to discuss the case and to request testing for the novel coronavirus,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Public Health Director at a Friday afternoon press conference. “Our County of Santa Clara Public Health Laboratory received the specimens the very next morning and performed the testing. Since receiving the results last night, we’ve been working to identify the woman’s contacts and to understand who she might have exposed while contagious.”
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