US Confirms Second Coronavirus Death in Seattle With 77 Infected Nationwide

Published March 2nd, 2020 - 07:56 GMT
Supporters wear medical masks, as fears of coronavirus increase in California, during a campaign rally for Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 1, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. AFP/File
Supporters wear medical masks, as fears of coronavirus increase in California, during a campaign rally for Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 1, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. AFP/File
Officials said man was at EvergreenHealth hospital in King County, Washington, and had underlying health conditions at the time of his illness, and died on Saturday

A second person in the U.S. has died from coronavirus at the same Seattle area hospital where the first person died, officials have confirmed.

 The announcement came as the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in New York, and the number of cases nationwide reached at least 77.

Health officials in Washington state said Sunday night that a man in his 70s had died - and he had previously been a resident at a nursing facility near Seattle where dozens of people were sick and had been tested for the virus. 

The man reportedly had underlying health conditions, and died at the EvergreenHealth hospital in Kirkland - the same hospital where the country's first coronavirus-related death was reported yesterday.

Officials also confirmed three other patients at the hospital - a woman in her 80s, a woman in her 90s and a man in his 70s - are all in a critical condition.  

The man who died and the three critical patients had all been residents of the LifeCare nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington, where health officials said 50 people are sick and being tested for the virus.

It came as the first positive case of coronavirus in New York was confirmed on Sunday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Reports said that the woman is currently in Manhattan and is isolated inside her home. 

A statement from the Cuomo's office reveals that the patient, an unidentified woman in her late 30s, contracted  COVID-19 while traveling abroad in Iran. 

'The positive test was confirmed by New York's Wadsworth Lab in Albany, underscoring the importance of the ability for our state to ensure efficient and rapid turnaround,' Cuomo wrote. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention will now confirm the case.  

It's unclear when the woman was in Iran and when she returned to the U.S. 

After the death of the resident from EvergreenHealth hospital in Kirkland, The CDC and local health officials sent an emergency response team to try to control the escalating situation.

Frank Riedo, the medical director of infection control at EvergreenHealth Hospital said: 'I think … what we're seeing is the tip of the iceberg. We're seeing the most critically ill individuals. Usually that means there's a significant percentage of individuals with less severe illness floating around out there. So in all likelihood there is ongoing low level transmission.' 

'We are very concerned about an outbreak in a setting where there are many older people, as we would be wherever people who are susceptible might be gathering,' Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Seattle and King County, said.

Duchin added that older adults and people with underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart or lung disease should be especially careful to protect themselves by washing their hands, not touching their faces, and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

The Life Care facility provides 24-hour care for residents, including physician and nurse coverage, many of whom have long-term and chronic conditions.

News of the potential outbreak in the facility is concerning given the higher danger of coronavirus being fatal to individuals who are less healthy or already have pre-existing conditions.

A spokesperson for Life Care told that the facility was not accepting any visitors or new admissions, and was monitoring all residents and associates for the virus.

They said the restricted access had only been put in place earlier that morning, the same day the two cases were confirmed and outbreak fears emerged.

Medical staff wearing protective clothing and masks were pictured transporting a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at the Life Care facility on Saturday.

The CDC is working with the facility to try to get a handle on the situation, they said, but the individual said they could not confirm reports that the CDC was sending in an emergency response team to the home.

Executive director Ellie Basham said in a statement that the facility is monitoring the situation closely.

'Current residents and associates are being monitored closely. As is normal this time of year, there are various cold and flu-like symptoms being exhibited from residents and associates,' the statement emailed to read.

'The health department has advised us to monitor for an elevated temperature, cough and shortness of breath. We're consulting with the health department and possibly sending patients to a local hospital for formal COVID-19 testing.'

One-quarter of Kirkland firefighters have also been quarantined after they responded to Life Care facility over the last week, according to Seattle Times.

'It impacted multiple crews,' Kellie Stickney, a city of Kirkland spokesperson, said.

The city has not stated where the firefighters are being quarantined.

At least 77 patients in the US have now been confirmed to have coronavirus, after one was reported in Rhode Island and a fifth 'unknown' origin case was found in Chicago on Sunday. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted that the deadly virus' entrance into New York's population of 19 million was a 'matter of when, not if.'

He went on to say that there is a $40million emergency management authorization legislature that has been proposed to government officials and is anticipating it's quick approval.

'There is no reason for undue anxiety -- the general risk remains low in New York. We are diligently managing this situation and will continue to provide information as it becomes available,' he wrote. 

New York's first positive coronavirus case comes after officials confirmed new coronavirus cases on Sunday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar confirmed the latest infection in Chicago during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, saying that authorities are now working to trace the source of the latest instance. 

So far, there are at least five reported cases nationwide - one in Chicago, one in Washington State, one in Oregon, and two in California - where authorities do not know how the virus was contracted, according to the federal government. 

The Chicago Tribune on Sunday reported that the third case of coronavirus was confirmed in Illinois.

A suburban Cook County resident was found to be a ‘presumptive case of novel coronavirus,’ the Illinois Department of Public Health announced.

The patient is hospitalized in isolation, and protocols by the Centers for Disease Control have been implemented.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has asked hospitals across the state to do more testing to improve surveillance for the virus.

The state was the first in the nation to provide for testing, according to the Tribune.

The governor announced on Friday that there were now three labs in the state that could test for coronavirus - one in Cook County, one in Springfield, and a third in Carbondale.

Officials said that the two other Illinois patients found to have the coronavirus have since made a full recovery.

Also on Sunday, the Rhode Island Department of Health announced the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus. 

The patient is in their 40s and had traveled to Italy in mid-February, the state agency said.

'RIDOH is coordinating closely with the hospital where this person is currently being treated and all infection control protocols are being followed,' the department said in a statement.

'The Rhode Island Department of Health has been preparing for weeks to ensure that we have a structure in place to, to the best of our ability, limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island,' said Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the department.

'We fully anticipated having a first case of COVID-19.

'We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low.

'However, everyone in Rhode Island has a role to play in helping us prevent the spread of viruses, just like the flu.

'It is very important that people wash their hands regularly, cover their coughs and sneezes, and stay home if they are sick.'

On Sunday Night, the Florida Department of Health confirmed two patients have tested 'presumptive positive' for coronavirus.

One is a resident of Hillsborough County, while the other is from of Manatee County. Both have been isolated.

The Trump administration on Saturday announced measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, including new restrictions on Americans and other who have traveled to Iran.

The government is also advising citizens against travel to certain parts of Italy and South Korea, where significant outbreaks of the pathogen have been reported. 

Coronavirus has been spreading in Washington State for more than six weeks and HUNDREDS could be undiagnosed, say experts 

A scientist in Washington State believes coronavirus may have been spreading for six weeks before it was detected, and there could be a 'few hundred' people currently infected amid an 'already substantial outbreak'.

At least 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported as of Sunday afternoon with the majority being on the west coast of the United States but new cases were confirmed in Rhode Island - where a patient in their 40s had traveled to Italy in mid-February - and Illinois where the third ‘presumptive case of novel coronavirus,’ was announced. Two people have made full recoveries in Illinois.

But anxious shoppers descended on supermarkets, stocking up on supplies like bottled water, canned food and Clorox wipes after more than half a dozen California residents were diagnosed with the disease in recent days.

The number of confirmed infections in Washington reached eight Sunday as two men in their 60s - both with underlying health conditions - were in critical condition. One was stable at Valley Medical Center in Renton, the other was at Virginia Mason.   

 Trevor Bedford of the University of Washington said the illness has likely spread within the community as none of the people confirmed to be infected had recently traveled. 

Bedford said a team at the Seattle Flu Study had compared the first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States to the second case, and found that it was on the same evolutionary tree.

Sharing a diagram, Bedford tweeted Saturday: 'This strongly suggests that there has been cryptic transmission in Washington State for the past 6 weeks.' 

Bedford posted on social media that case WA2 is likely to have come from case WA2 as they appear almost identical in make-up. 

The academic also noted that they were discovered in the same area of Washington State, Snohomish County, as he put the probability value at 0.3. Anything less than 0.5 is statistically significant and effectively rules out the chance the findings are random.

'It's possible that this genetic similarity is a coincidence and these are separate introductions. However, I believe this is highly unlikely. The WA1 case had a variant at site 18060. This variant is only present in 2/59 viruses from China,' Bedford continued. 

'I'd assess the p-value for this coincidence at 2/59=0.03 and so is statistically significant. Additionally, these two cases are geographically proximal, both residing in Snohomish County.

'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.'

Bedford said they will be working closely with Public Health Seattle and King County as well as the Washington Department of Health to fully investigate the outbreak.

The virus, immunity and evolution expert added that they hope to provide an update on the number of infections in Washington State soon.

'An update, because I see people overly speculating on total outbreak size. Our best current expectation is a few hundred current infections,' Bedford tweeted Saturday. 'Expect more analyses tomorrow.'

Scientists not affiliated with the research said the results did not necessarily surprise them and pointed out that for many people - especially younger, healthier ones - the symptoms are not much worse than a flu or bad cold.

'We think that this has a pretty high rate of mild symptoms and can be asymptomatic. 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,' said Justin Lessler, an associated professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

'And that was what a lot of us was thinking was likely.' 

Virus claims more than 3,000 lives worldwide as flights from US to Italy are suspended

Worldwide, the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China has sickened at least 88,583 people and killed more than 3,000 in 54 countries.

The US will start screening travelers for coronavirus and ramp up production of masks and test kits as the government scrambles to reassure Americans while the disease spreads and businesses cancel conferences and flights.

Donald Trump said on Sunday that travelers to the United States from countries at high risk of coronavirus would be screened before boarding and upon arrival, without specifying which countries.

Delta Air Lines on Sunday said it is suspending until May flights to Milan in northern Italy where most of that country's coronavirus cases have been reported. Flights will continue to Rome. American Airlines Group Inc announced a similar move late on Saturday.

The United States has imposed limits on travelers who have visited Iran and recommended against travel to hard-hit areas of Italy and South Korea.

Trump said on Saturday that the United States was also considering shutting the country's southern border with Mexico to control the spread of the virus, adding, 'We hope we won't have to do that.'

Mexico has reported four coronavirus cases. Its foreign ministry said on Saturday that both governments are in 'close and effective communication, especially the health authorities.' 

Meanwhile in Australia, the first human-to-human transfer of COVID-19 has been confirmed as the number of cases in the country hit 31. Tasmania has also confirmed its first case of the virus.

Vice President Mike Pence said the government had contracted 3M Co to produce an extra 35 million respiratory masks a month. He urged Americans not to buy the masks, which he said were only needed by healthcare workers. Honeywell International Inc is the other major U.S. mask producer. 

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams asked the public to stop buying masks, saying they're ineffective against coronavirus. 

Pence, named by the president to be the point-person overseeing the government's response, said more than 15,000 virus testing kits had been released over the weekend. And, the administration is working with a commercial provider to distribute 50,000 more, he said.

The vice president said testing was among the first issues raised by governors he's spoken with so far. Several states have begun their own testing, including Washington state, Oregon and Illinois.

'We're leaning into it,' Pence said.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said more than 3,600 people already have been tested for coronavirus and the capability exists to test 75,000 people. He forecast a "radical expansion of that" in the coming weeks.

The United States has 75,000 test kits for coronavirus and will expand that number 'radically' in coming weeks, Azar told ABC's This Week on Sunday. 

He also told Fox News that clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine would start in six weeks but that a vaccine will likely not be available this season.

Democrats, who will challenge Trump for the presidency in the November 3 election, have criticized his administration for downplaying the crisis and not preparing for the disease to spread in the United States.

Pence, whom Trump appointed last week to run the White House's coronavirus response, said Americans should brace for more cases, but that the 'vast majority' of those who contracted the disease would recover.

'Other than in areas where there are individuals that have been infected with the coronavirus, people need to understand that for the average American, the risk does remain low. We're ready,' Pence told NBC's 'Meet the Press'. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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