Washington state reported on Saturday the first death in the U.S. from the new coronavirus, the first health care worker to be infected with the disease, and most worrying, the first known outbreak in a long-term care facility.

At a nursing facility in Kirkland, Wash, approximately 27 of the 108 residents and 25 of the 180 staff have some symptoms, health officials said during a teleconference with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authorities report that some among them have pneumonia.

“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,” said Jeff Duchin, health officer for public health for Seattle and King County. He 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.

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The deceased, a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions, was not a resident of the facility, and officials have not yet found a link between his case and the outbreak in the nursing facility. “At the present time, we do not see a connection between the two. But there are some evolving threads that are being investigated,” said Frank Riedo, the medical director of infection control at EvergreenHealth Hospital, where the death occurred. “I think … what we’re seeing is the tip of the iceberg,” he added. “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.”

As of Saturday, the World Health Organization reported that there were more than 85,403 cases worldwide, from 46 countries. While most of the cases are still from China, cases elsewhere are on the rise.

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The United States has reported more than 60 cases at this point. The bulk of the cases, 47, are people who were evacuated from China or from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. There have been 15 previous cases in people who contracted the virus overseas.

So far, two people from the nursing facility outbreak have tested positive for Covid-19. One is a health worker in her 40s, who is currently in “satisfactory condition,” Duchin said, while the other is a resident in her 70s with significant underlying chronic health issues and is in “serious condition.”

“We haven’t been onsite yet,” he said, adding that a team from the CDC will be arriving Saturday evening to help investigate and control the situation.

Kathy Lofy, state health officer for the Washington State Department of Health, said that if Washington starts to see more spread, the state might consider social distancing measures, such as canceling large events.

“While there is some spread in some communities, there is not national spread of Covid-19,” said Nancy Messonier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “CDC and the federal government are working to keep it that way.” She emphasized that most people in the United States are at low immediate risk, but added that this was “an historic public health challenge.”

  • How many people have died who are NOT in nursing homes, who have not traveled out of the country? In US?

  • I think we are getting a grip on COVID19. The Israelis claim they are on the verge of testing a vaccine for this virus. They have some brilliant scientists
    and may be the solution to this outbreak.

  • Testing parameters are very strict. Many people with low grade illness or even in hospital cannot get tested.

  • Since COVID19 is related to the previous SARS and MERS Outbreaks, why wasn’t the ability to test for it developed 90 days ago?
    Today a sample of the mouth, nose, or sputum is taken, packed in ice, and shipped to the few existing test labs. Results take 2-3 days. Meanwhile the person tested is roaming freely spreading it, or may be held in isolation even though the test will prove negative.Testing Labs should be numerous in major metro areas and results given within hours so the appropriate action can be taken. Who dropped the ball here???????

    • The reason it hasn’t been developed is because this is a NEW virus..It takes time!
      “ask our Dear Leader”??
      Trump has done EVERYTHING possible to get this under control.. Fighting the Democrats along the way..
      You all have unrealistic expectations.. Do you know when Swine Flu came from Mexico more than 2000 people had died before Obama acted??? Where was the outrage then?

  • Scott, I do appreciate your reply. It is a good opportunity to see what are on people’s mind. Your positions are probably not uncommon at all given what is going on in the news and what is coming from the politicians.

    First for the issue of Chinese medicine. That has nothing to do with the pride of the ethnic Chinese population. Ethnic Chinese population, just like whatever your ethnic population, do share some common beliefs and at the same time have widely different opinions. It is no different in the case of Chinese medicine. If you are indeed interested in more facts (or fallacies) about Chinese medicine, you will be able to find abundance of information if you are willing to spend the time. I happen to be following the virus outbreak and development closely and, and based on the information I gathered, I am convinced that Chinese medicine has much more merit than you so casually dismissed. I also want to add that up until very recently, I had been no fan of Chinese medicine. Yes there is not an framework for us to understand how it worked but I simply can’t ignore the evidences that it did work, rather amazingly.

    In regard to “being the source of the pandemic, results in a lot of cognitive dissonance”. I do not know what is the best way to respond to that. Occasionally, you hear that kind of radial talk in public venues from few politicians or news channels. Fortunately majority of us are still not of that opinion. There are already abundance of scientific understanding of the virus and it is not difficult to see that could occur anywhere, as viruses has been with human being forever. You can look up some knowledge on coronavirus and various forms of flu and hopefully you can see it that way. There may be some complexities to see it in that context. If that is the case a casual look at some of the epidemics or pandemics that we are all familiar probably can help, for example, the aides virus and the h1n1 virus in the very recent history or the flu pandemic in the turn of last century.

    Finally, “harm from what could be justifiably called a Chinese wild-animal-extinction diet”. Yes there are trades of wild animals in China and it is Incorporated in diets sometime. The extent of that is drastically exaggerated. There are no exact statistics on the wild animal situation in China. China is a huge country with a huge population and in several regions of China that I am familiar with, the wild animal issue is mostly negligible. Yes indeed in some regions, there is a tradition of using wild animals in diet in China. However if you put that in context with the other parts of the world, you may have a better perspective. You may be familiar with dear hunting and using that in a diet and also crocodiles in the diet, just to name a few.

  • Mr. Zhiyong, fair points, except for the paragraph on Chinese [traditional] medications. I’m sorry, but that is completely anecdotal and has no medical significance. There is no scientifically accurate information about “similar pandemics [sic; “epidemics”] in China” to the current coronavirus except for SARS. I regret also that “over it is claimed that Chinese medicine, when used in junction with other life support measures, are highly successful” has similarly no medical significance and is akin to praising the administering of chicken soup. I understand that the ethnic Chinese population has great pride and that, in conjunction with being the source of the pandemic, results in a lot of cognitive dissonance. But recommending the equivalent of Chinese herbs, to repair the harm from what could be justifiably called a Chinese wild-animal-extinction diet, is neither wise nor medically/statistically viable.

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