(AP) – Update – The governor of Washington state declared a state of emergency Saturday after a man died there of COVID-19, marking the first such reported death in the United States. Gov. Jay Inslee directed state agencies to use all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to the outbreak. The declaration also allows the use of the Washington National Guard, if necessary. Health officials in California, Oregon and Washington state worried about the novel coronavirus spreading through West Coast communities after confirming at least three patients were infected by unknown means. The patients had not visited an area where there was an outbreak, nor apparently been in contact with anyone who had.
A man has died in Washington state of COVID-19, state health officials said Saturday, marking the first such reported death in the United States.
State officials issued a terse news release announcing the death, gave no details and scheduled a news conference. A spokesperson for EvergreenHealth Medical Center, Kayse Dahl, said the person died in the facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, but gave no other details.
State and King County health officials said “new people (have been) identified with the infection, one of whom died.” They did not say how many new cases there are.
Amy Reynolds of the Washington state health department said in a brief telephone interview: “We are dealing with an emergency evolving situation.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the person who died was a man from Washington state.
“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19. Our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Inslee said. “We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus.
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is considered small. 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.
Most infections result in mild symptoms, including coughing and fever, though some can become more serious and lead to pneumonia. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are especially vulnerable. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
Health officials in California, Oregon and Washington state worried about the novel coronavirus spreading through West Coast communities after confirming three patients were infected by unknown means.
The patients — an older Northern California woman with chronic health conditions, a high school student in Everett, Washington and an employee at a Portland, Oregon-area school — hadn’t recently traveled overseas or had any known close contact with a traveler or an infected person, authorities said.