Health and Science

Washington state confirms first US death from coronavirus

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Key Points
  • The U.S. reported on Saturday its first death from the coronavirus in King County in Washington state. 
  • The patient was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions, who was tested at the Washington State Public Health Lab, according to U.S. health officials. There was no evidence that he got the infection through travel.
  • The death comes as several cases in Washington state, California and Oregon have raised fears over the local, person-to-person transmission of the virus in people who have not recently traveled or been in contact with infected people. 
A pedestrian wearing a protective mask stands on Mission Street in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020.
Bloomberg

The U.S. reported on Saturday its first death from the coronavirus in King County in Washington state. 

Jamie Nixon, a public information officer with the Washington State Department of Health, said that a patient in the state has died from the infection. The patient was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions, who was tested at the Washington State Public Health Lab, according to U.S. health officials.

There was no evidence that he got the infection through travel or contact with another infected person. Officials are investigating how he contracted the virus. 

President Trump during a Saturday press conference incorrectly said the patient was a woman.

There are more than 85,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and at least 2,933 confirmed deaths. At least 64 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. 

The death comes as several cases in Washington state, California and Oregon have raised fears over the local, person-to-person transmission of the virus in people who have not recently traveled or been in contact with infected people. 

Washington state officials said on Friday that a high school student in Snohomish County, near Seattle, had the virus and was in home isolation. Officials also confirmed a case in a woman in her 50s in King County, who had recently traveled to Daegu, South Korea, and had since been in home isolation. 

Health officials said that more than 50 people in a Washington state nursing facility called Life Care are sick and being tested for the virus. There are two presumptive positives associated with the facility: a health care worker and a woman in her 70s. 

"In addition, over 50 individuals associated with Life Care are reportedly ill with respiratory symptoms or hospitalized with pneumonia or other respiratory conditions of unknown cause and are being tested for COVID-19," Seattle and King County officials said on Saturday.

"Additional positive cases are expected," they said. 

Washington state governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday after the man's death.

"We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus," the governor said in a statement.