Coronavirus outbreak kills second person in Washington state after first New York case confirmed – The Sun
ANOTHER person has died in Washington state from the coronavirus, health officials said Sunday night.
The death marks the second person who has died in the U.S. because of the virus — both of whom have been in the Evergreen State.
King County officials said the man was in his 70s and had underlying health conditions. He died at EvergreenHealth Medical Center, where the first person also died.
On Saturday, it was announced a man in his 50s from the Seattle area, who also had underlying health conditions, had died from the illness.
A short time earlier, it was revealed a person in New York was confirmed to have the coronavirus after traveling to Iran in recent weeks.
That person, located in Manhattan, is in isolation at home. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says there's "no reason for undue anxiety" because of the diagnosis.
"The general risk remains low in New York," he said. "There is no cause for surprise — this was expected."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency because of the outbreak, directing agencies to use "all resources necessary" to prepare and respond.
There are 76 confirmed cases of the coronavirus throughout the U.S.
Researchers believe the virus could have been circulating for weeks undetected in Washington state — where the nation's first confirmed infection was.
The first case was a Washington state man who had visited China — the epicenter of the outbreak.
But multiple people who have been recently diagnosed had not traveled to outbreak countries or been in contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus.
At the Life Care Center in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle, 50 people who showed symptoms of the virus were being tested as of Saturday.
The nursing home is just two miles away from EvergreenHealth Medical Center — where both coronavirus deaths have happened.
Dr. Frank Riedo, medical director of Infection Control at the center, said: "This is just the tip of the iceberg."
Health officials said two more people in the area, both men in their 60s, were diagnosed and in critical condition.
Two healthcare workers at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, California were also diagnosed after caring for an earlier coronavirus patient.
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington on Sunday said they had evidence the virus might have been circulating for up to six weeks in Washington.
If true, that could mean hundreds of people have undiagnosed cases in the area.
Trevor Bedford, of the Fred Hutchinson center, tweeted that genetic similarities between the state's first case on January 20 and a case announced on Friday showed the newer case might have descended from the earlier one.
“I believe we’re facing an already substantial outbreak in Washington State that was not detected until now due to narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China,” he wrote on Twitter.
Other scientists said those findings don't really surprise them and said for many people, the symptoms aren't much worse than a flu or a bad cold.
“We think that this has a pretty high rate of mild symptoms and can be asymptomatic," said Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
"The symptoms are pretty non-specific and testing criteria has been pretty strict, so those combinations of factors means that it easily could have been circulating for a bit without us knowing."
Dr. Carlos del Rio of Emory University School of Medicine said: “This is a good time to reinforce the things we all should be doing to stop the spread of flu."
"Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. If you have a cold, stay home … It’s a good time to remind ourselves of that."
Vice President Mike Pence, who's leading the government's response to the outbreak, said more than 15,000 virus testing kits had been released over the weekend.
He said the Trump administration is working with a commercial provider to distribute 50,000 more.
Pence said testing was among the first issues raised by governors he's spoken with so far, and said Washington state, Oregon and Illinois have started their own testing.
Cuomo said on Twitter Sunday that New York state was also granted the ability to do their own testing after he spoke with Pence.
After the first death was announced, President Donald Trump downplayed the virus threat and urged people not to panic.
"We have 22 patients in the U.S. that have coronavirus," Trump said, confirming a "high-risk" patient passed away overnight — but officials said he had not traveled before his death."
"Healthy people, if you're healthy … you will probably go through and process and you'll be fine," the president said.
He described his January decision to prevent travel as the most "aggressive action in modern history" to contain a virus like this.
Trump said these travel restrictions on people traveling to and from China were a "lifesaver."
There are now more than 80,000 cases of the coronavirus worldwide, and about 3,000 deaths.
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