King County man first to die in US from coronavirus; two more cases identified

Feb 29, 2020, 10:22 AM | Updated: Mar 1, 2020, 12:26 am

The first U.S. coronavirus-related death was reported in King County on Saturday, according to the Washington Department of Health. Officials announced four more cases in since Friday, and say they are treating at least 50 more people who are displaying symptoms.

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Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health – Seattle & King County confirmed the man who died was in his 50s and being treated at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland. He had underlying health conditions and no history of travel or contact with a known COVID-19 case.

Duchin said that there are two other people identified as having coronavirus — a female health care worker at Life Care Center, long-term care facility in Kirkland, and a woman in her 70s, a resident at the same Life Care Center.

The health care worker, a woman in her 40s, is in satisfactory condition at Overlake Hospital. She has no known travel outside of the U.S. The second woman is in serious condition at EvergreenHealth.

Health officials said there are also 50 more people associated with the Life Care Center that are reportedly ill with respiratory symptoms or hospitalized with pneumonia. Additional positive cases are expected.

No one answered the phone at Life Care on Saturday, but Ellie Basham, its executive director, said in a statement that residents and employees are being monitored and those with symptoms or who were potentially exposed are quarantined. The facility has banned families, volunteers and vendors as a precaution, Basham said.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Frank Riedo, medical director of Infection Control at Evergreen.

The two new cases bring the total cases reported in Washington state to six:

Snohomish County man who was the first U.S. case in January – treated and released

Teen at Jackson High School in Everett 

Female health care worker being treated at Overlake Hospital

Female LifeCare resident being treated at EvergreenHealth

Woman in her 50s who recently traveled to South Korea

Man in his 50s who passed away

Two cases reported Friday night

Health officials reported Friday night that two coronavirus cases were identified in King and Snohomish Counties.

One case involves a teenager in Everett with no travel history. He is a presumptive positive, meaning tests have come back positive for the virus, while pending confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is currently in home isolation.

Health officials don’t know how or where the teenager was infected, and are working on identifying anyone the teen may have come into contact with. The student attends Jackson High School in the Everett School District.

Another case involves a King County woman in her 50s who recently traveled to Daegu, South Korea. Her status is also presumptive positive and she is in home isolation.

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Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency and 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.

National response

President Trump said on Saturday that he’ll be meeting with the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world on Monday about a vaccine for coronavirus.

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“We have 42 million masks,” Trump said, “… and a lot more are coming.”

The president said he met with Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday to discuss U.S. actions regarding coronavirus.

Pence later said, “the average American does not need to go out and buy a mask.”

However, the administration is working with 3M to obtain another 35 million masks.

“Our country is prepared for any circumstance,” Trump said. “There’s no reason to panic at all.”

Virus’ effect on world economy grows more alarming

The U.S. has about 60 confirmed cases. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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King County man first to die in US from coronavirus; two more cases identified