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8th person tests positive for coronavirus in WA; possible nursing home outbreak investigated

APTOPIX Virus Outbreak
Posted at 1:31 PM, Mar 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-01 15:31:26-05

Washington state health officials are investigating a possible outbreak of coronavirus at a long-term nursing facility in which two people tested positive for the disease.

In all, eight people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the state, including a man whose death was reported Saturday, making him the first coronavirus fatality in the United States.

Two new cases were confirmed by Seattle and King County Public Health officials on Sunday. They are both males in their 60s with underlying health conditions. One is "in critical but stable condition" at Valley Medical Center in Renton. The other is in critical condition at Virginia Mason Medical Center, a news release said.

"This number is expected to rise as more people are tested and results confirmed," according to a news release from the health department.

However, the two new novel coronavirus cases are not linked to the long-term health facility where the other coronavirus cases were identified, Katie Ross, spokesperson for Washington Health Department, told CNN.

The other cases are a high school boy, a woman who traveled to South Korea and an unidentified man.

California is the only state with a higher number of positive cases, with 11.

Nursing home case

The cases associated with the Life Care Center, a nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington, include a 40-year-old female health care worker who has no known travel outside the US. She is in satisfactory condition at a local hospital, officials said. The second one, a woman in her 70s, is hospitalized in serious condition.

More than 50 residents and staff from the Life Care Center in Kirkland are experiencing symptoms, and will be tested for coronavirus, said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County.

"In addition, we're aware of a number of individuals associated with the long-term care facility who are reportedly ill with respiratory symptoms or pneumonia, and we're in the process of investigating this situation as an outbreak," Duchin said. "We're in the beginning stages of our investigation."

In a statement, the facility said it's not allowing visits from families, volunteers or vendors, and is also placing admissions on hold for the time being.

"We are now in the process of working with the long-term care facility, with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Duchin said. "And we're in a process of providing support to that facility to care for the infected patients, to protect the uninfected patients, and to provide infection control."

The news comes the same day the first US death from coronavirus was reported in Washington state, health officials said Saturday. The man in his 50s, who had underlying health conditions, was not a resident at the care facility.

High school boy had flu-like symptoms

The high school boy in Snohomish County became ill with flu-like symptoms last Monday, the student's family said in a statement.

He was tested for the flu but the tests came back negative, so he returned to Jackson High School on Friday, the county health district said in a blog post.

He stayed on campus about five minutes and went home because the family was notified by health officials that his original sample had been tested for coronavirus and came back presumptive positive, the health district said.

"The family didn't know their son was being tested for COVID-19.... Like most people, they assumed it was the flu. They did all the right things," the health district said.

The high school was closed over the weekend and will be closed Monday to allow for a thorough cleaning and disinfecting before the students return.

District health officials say they are investigating this case since it suggests that local transmission of COVID-19 is occurring.

"Our team is still in the midst of the investigation, so we do not yet know the possible source of infection," said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District.

State of emergency in Washington state

There are now at lest 74 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in the United States and one death. They include 44 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three people repatriated from China and 24 cases that occurred in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cases across the US are in Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington state and Wisconsin.

A presumptive case is a patient who has tested positive at a state, county or city lab, but whose results have not yet been confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Saturday, directing state agencies to use all resources necessary to respond to the outbreak.

"This will allow us to get the resources we need," Inslee said. "This is a time to take common-sense, proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of those who live in Washington state."


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