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.”

  • Public Health Agencies need to hold public hearings, print informational Phamplets, and share a website that concerned citizens can go to. When will they wake up?

    • There is enough information and general knowledge in the public domain. The government’s stand is that there is no need to panic and there is no need to take more dramatic actions than what have been taken so far. It is up to the general public and local institutions to take actions, like cancellations of many conferences, that they deem appropriate.

    • People assume state and local health departments are about public health. In many places, especially Democrat strongholds, they are more about public sector union membership and political patronage. So, when you lean on them to undertake a complex public health task, they’re just not capable.

      I think you’ll see most of the worst outbreaks in such Democrat strongholds, but also in places where the tourism sector has applied extreme pressure to keep things quiet, such as Florida.

      The CDC could, effectively, take command of certain state and local health agencies, but the CDC itself has proven to be less than capable.

  • Could have been a staff member. Could have been someone visiting one of the patients. Could have been a delivery that was coughed on or a delivery person who coughed on someone or something or… With such a long time for contagion without serious symptoms and no testing, it’s hard to pinpoint.

    South Korea is doing drive in testing of as much of the population as they can. One Pandora’s box is open… it’s impossible to put the demons back in. We’re left with hope. Will that stop the spread?

    • What is the number of new coronavirus tests?
      Medical expenses are too expensive, so many people have no way to test?
      Has the number of deaths from influenza A increased significantly compared to the same period last year?
      Does it contain deaths caused by the new coronavirus?
      Since the possible suspension of the Olympic Games in Japan, the number of cases in Japan has increased very little.
      There is a lot of concealment.

  • There are multiple people out there (I know of a few) that have symptoms, but were sent home because there is no commercially available test in the US for Covid-19. That means there are several people (possibly thousands) that are spreading the virus and have been for weeks. It’s time to just accept that this virus is here, and we can’t stop it. It is now the new normal.

    • Remdesivir is a drug tested in large scale clinical trials in China, together with many others. Remdesivir is developed by Gilead. According to a published report, it is used on one patient in the US and the second day after the administration of the drug, the symptoms of the patient improved drastically. However that is the only case reported, except for the large number of cases in clinical trials in China and possibly in other places.

      There are a myriad of Chinese medications, many from centuries of recipes for similar pandemics in China, have been used in large scale in China. Over it is claimed that Chinese medicine, when used in junction with other life support measures, are highly successful.

  • If 27 residents and 25 staff have the virus, then how is it possible that more than 60 have been reported in the US and 47 of them are people evacuated from China, I’m thinking someone is really bad at math.

    • good point trish but i think the answer to your question is that they do not count you as having the virus is you show symptoms but if you test positive. if this article was well written it would tell the reader what was being done about testing the staff but sadly it does not. it really looks to me like Life Care Center’s staff are doing a very bad job dealing with this.

    • The 60 cases reported are confirmed by blood work to be Covid. Of the 27 residents and 25 staff with symptoms only two have been tested and returned positive. The others have not been tested yet, but presumably they are undergoing it now. If the remaining 50 test positive then the total count will be higher.

  • If I’m the NS advisor, I’m thinking, what if, come May, China is fully recovered and the US is in the midst of an Iran-style meltdown. Tempting for the Chinese (or Russians) to take what they want, issue ultimatums, or attack Taiwan, Japan, Europe, or the US (Hawaii?). Tempting for Islamic terrorists to launch devastating attacks.

    That’s why letting this spread from a local problem to a national one is a high-order national security threat. I think they have no choice but to start locking down certain areas.

    • Another “worst case scenario,” and this thing has been nothing but that, is that Bernie Sanders becomes President. That could be viewed by some as a communist takeover of the US government, of the one-man, one-vote, one-time type. Or, it could be viewed as a surreptitious Chinese takeover of the US government.

      Is this the most perilous time in the last century, at least?

  • What’s not happening in the press is a discussion of the financial cost to individuals as well as society for virus driven healthcare. Uninsured and high deductible people will suffer the consequences when they become ill and hope for the best rather than entering a quarantine or hospital for which they will be billed.

    • Anyone entering an ER in the US, particularly during a pandemic, will be tested and treated if necessary. Please stop discouraging people from stopping the spread of this virus.

    • Susan, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from seeking medical care just noting a very real possibility that people will choose not to seek medical care because of cost. Emergency rooms do treat and they do bill and many Americans fear the bill more than the virus.

    • Susan, emergency do bill people if you don’t have insurance. It worse they bill by the thousands.

      I think it is time that the government pass some bill about free treatment if its is coronavirus like what they do in Singapore.

  • Ring fence hotspots to prevent national catastrophe? Might be on the cards. Would have to do it soon.

    • I meant an asymptomatic cattier, working at the facility. This reinforces the need for large-scale testing in areas where the disease crops up.

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