Authorities announce second coronavirus death in US

SEATTLE (AP) — United States (US) Health officials in Washington State said last Sunday night that a second person had died from the coronavirus — a man in his 70s from a nursing facility near Seattle where dozens of people were sick and had been tested for the virus.

Researchers said earlier the virus may have been circulating for weeks undetected in Washington State.

In a statement, Public Health—Seattle & King County said the man died last Saturday. Last Friday, health officials said a man in his 50s died of coronavirus, the first death from the virus in the US. Both had underlying health conditions, and both were being treated at a hospital in Kirkland, Washington, east of Seattle.

Washington State now has 12 confirmed cases. State and local authorities stepped up testing for the illness as the number of new cases grew nationwide, with new infections announced in California, Florida, Illinois, Rhode Island, New York and Washington State.

Authorities in the Seattle area reported four new cases last Sunday night, including the man who died. Two health care workers in California were also diagnosed. Of the new Washington state cases, two were women, one in her 80s and another in her 90s. Both were in critical condition.

Travellers wear protective mask at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. PHOTO: AP

A man in his 70s was also in critical condition. All three were from the LifeCare nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington, where health officials said 50 people are sick and being tested for the virus.

Last Sunday night, the International Association of Fire Fighters said 25 members who responded to calls for help at the nursing facility are being quarantined.

The first US case was a Washington State man who had visited China, where the virus first emerged, but several recent cases in the US have had no known connection to travellers.

In California, two health care workers in the San Francisco Bay area who cared for an earlier coronavirus patient were diagnosed with the virus last Sunday, the Alameda and Solano counties said in a joint statement.

The health care workers are both employed at NorthBay Vaca Valley Hospital in Vacaville, California, and had exposure to a patient treated there before being transferred to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, the statement said. That patient was the first person in the US discovered to have contracted the coronavirus with no known overseas travel.

Alameda County declared a state of emergency last Sunday following the news.

In Oregon, the state Health Authority said last Sunday that a second person in the state tested positive for the virus. The person is an adult in household contact with the first Oregonian to test positive and does not need medical attention, the authority said.

Elsewhere, authorities announced last Sunday a third case in Illinois, a second in Rhode Island and a first case in New York as worried Americans swarmed stores to stock up on basic goods such as bottled water, canned foods and toilet paper.

The patients in Rhode Island were on a school trip to Italy together in February. A third person from the trip is being tested, and the school is shutting down for the week.

In New York, officials confirmed last Sunday that a woman in her late 30s contracted the virus while travelling in Iran.

She has been quarantined to her home in Manhattan.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last Sunday that it was retesting someone in San Antonio, Texas, who had been released from isolation last Saturday but later returned after a lab test was “weakly positive”. The patient had been treated a local medical facility for several weeks after returning from Wuhan, China.

The agency said the patient had met the criteria for release and was asymptomatic. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff told the San Antonio Express-News that the patient was a woman who had come into contact with around a dozen people at a hotel. Both Wolff and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg expressed concerns over the patient’s initial release in a statement.