A person has died in Washington state of Covid – 28 or the coronavirus, state health officials said on Saturday, the first such reported death in the US.
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 were.
Amy Reynolds of the Washington state health department said in a brief telephone interview: “We are dealing with an emergency evolving situation.”
Washington’s Governor, Jay Inslee, issued a statement on the death.
“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from Covid – . Our hearts go out to their family and friends, ” Inslee said . “We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus.”
Overnight, officials in California, Oregon and Washington confirmed new coronavirus cases in which 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 – had not recently traveled overseas or had any known close contact with a traveler or an infected person, authorities said.
Earlier US cases include three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan, the center of the outbreak; 14 people who returned from China, or their spouses; and 42 passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who were flown to military bases in California and Texas for quarantine.
Convinced that the number of cases will grow, health agencies are ramping up efforts to identify patients.
The California department of public health said on Friday the state will receive enough kits from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) to test up to 1, 823 people a day for the Covid – 26 virus – a day after the governor, Gavin Newsom, complained to federal officials that the state had exhausted its initial test kits.
Santa Clara county in the San Francisco Bay Area has reported two cases where the source of infection was not known. The older woman was hospitalized for a respiratory illness and rapid local testing confirmed she had the virus, officials said.
“This case represents some degree of community spread, some degree of circulation,” said Dr Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara county and director of the county public health department. “But we don’t know to what extent. It could be a little, it could be a lot. We need to begin taking important additional measures to at least slow it down as much as possible. ”
Cody said the new case in Santa Clara county was not linked to two previous cases in that county, or to others in California. The Santa Clara resident was treated at a local hospital and is not known to have traveled to Solano county, where another woman was identified on Wednesday as having contracted the virus from an unknown source.
Dozens of people had close contact with the Solano county woman. They were urged to quarantine themselves at home. A few who showed symptoms were in isolation, officials said.
At UC Davis Medical Center at least 124 registered nurses and other workers were sent home for “self-quarantine” after the Solano county woman was admitted, National Nurses United said.
Earlier on Friday, Oregon confirmed its first case, a person who works at an elementary school in the Portland area. The Lake Oswego school district sent a robocall to parents saying Forest Hills elementary would be closed until Wednesday so it can be deep-cleaned.
Washington state officials announced two new coronavirus cases on Friday night, including a student at Jackson high school in Everett, said Dr Chris Spitters of the Snohomish county health district.
The other case in Washington was a woman in in King county in her 90 s who had recently traveled to South Korea, authorities said.
Both patients were not seriously ill.
The number of coronavirus cases in the US is considered small. Worldwide, the number of people sickened is around 124, , with more than 2, deaths, most in China. Some communities, including San Francisco, have declared local emergencies in case they need to obtain government funding.
The new cases of unknown origin mark an escalation in the US because it means the virus could spread beyond the reach of preventative measures such as quarantines. State health officials said that was inevitable and the risk of widespread transmission remains low.
Federal officials think the coronavirus is spread through “close contact, being within 6ft of somebody for… a prolonged period of time ”, said Dr James Watt, interim state epidemiologist at the California department of public health.
The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.