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America's first coronavirus death reported in Washington state

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Posted at 1:07 PM, Feb 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-29 16:18:22-05

KING COUNTY, Wash. – Officials in Washington state say a person from the Seattle area has died of COVID-19, the first such death in the United States.

The Washington Department of Health described the deceased patient as a man in his 50s who had underlying health conditions. He was a patient at Evergreen Health.

During a press conference with President Donald Trump, Dr. Robert Redfield with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the man who died from the virus didn’t have a history of travel, meaning it was likely a case of “community spread.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency Saturday, directing 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.

Gov. Inslee issued the following statement regarding the man's death:

"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. We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus.

"In partnership with the Washington State Department of Health, the Washington State Department of Emergency Management and local and community health partners, we are strengthening our preparedness and response efforts. I am committed to keeping Washingtonians healthy, safe and informed."

Watch the Washington Department of Health provide an update over the case:

Health officials in California, Oregon and Washington state are worried about the 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.

The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family and is a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past. It can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia.

Health officials think the virus spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

The outbreak began in China but has infected tens of thousands of people in more than three dozen countries, with the vast majority in mainland China.

Trump said Saturday that 22 people are battling COVID-19 in the U.S. and four others are “very ill.” He added that additional U.S. cases are likely.

Click here to learn more about COVID-19 and how to yourself from the virus.