UPDATED with latest: The death toll of victims of coronavirus in the U.S. grew to 11 on Wednesday, including the first death in California and another in Washington state, where until today all of the deaths so far have occurred.
The news comes after three deaths were announced Tuesday, two of which were residents of a Kirkland, WA nursing home that has become a flashpoint for the illness.
The new deaths were confirmed Wednesday by officials in Placer County, located just northeast of Sacramento in northern California, and the Washington State Department of Health, respectively.
The California case involved “an elderly adult with underlying health conditions” who was the second patient to test positive for the illness in the county. He was tested presumptively positive on Tuesday, with local officials saying he was likely exposed during international travel last month on a Princess cruise ship traveling from San Francisco to Mexico.
The Placer County Public Health department said a preliminary investigation suggests the patient ‘had minimal community exposure between returning from the cruise and arriving at the hospital by ambulance on Feb. 27.” The patient had been in isolation at Kaiser Permanente Roseville; 10 of the hospital’s healthcare workers and five emergency responders that had been exposed to the patient are now in quarantine, but currently exhibit no symptoms.
The CDC says there have been 29 reported cases in California to date. The Centers for Disease Control said that as of Tuesday evening there were 80 coronavirus cases in the U.S. in 13 states. That total includes six new cases in Los Angeles County, which today declared a health emergency.
Two of the three Washington state victims identified Tuesday died on February 24 and February 26, before the illness became widespread. It made them the first known COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. As of Wednesday, Washington has 39 positive diagnoses of coronavirus, the most in the country.
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 90,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide across 73 countries. There have been more than 3,100 deaths globally. The organization increased its fatality rate for the illness to 3.4%.
PREVIOUSLY, Saturday, February 29: The first death from the coronavirus in the U.S. has been recorded Saturday in King County in Washington state. A second patient died Sunday.
Jamie Nixon, a public information officer with the Washington State Department of Health, issued a vague report that said a patient in the state has died from the infection. The individual or details of their illness exposure were not immediately provided.
Washington state officials said they will hold a news conference in King County at 4:00 pm ET to discuss the case.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump held a Saturday press conference and reassured the nation that things are being handled
“There’s no reason to panic at all. This is something that is being handled professionally,” Trump said at the White House.
“Unfortunately, one person passed away overnight,” Trump said. “She was a wonderful woman a medically high-risk patient in her late 50s. Four others are very ill. Thankfully 15 are either recovered fully or they’re well on their way to recovery. And in all cases, they’ve been let go in their home.”
He added: “Additional cases in the United States are likely. But healthy individuals should be able to fully recover.”
Trump said the US will take more actions on travel and vaccine preparedness, and plans to meet with drug companies on Monday to discuss next steps.
“Our country is prepared for any circumstance,” Trump said.
VP Mike Pence, who leads the US government virus response, also announced new travel restrictions, including an expanded ban on travel from Iran. The restrictions would cover anyone who has visited Iran in the last 14 days. He also said Trump authorized the State Department to raise the travel advisory for certain affected areas to Level Four, the highest level.
Americans are urged not to travel to areas in Italy and South Korea most affected by the virus.
The tone today was a sharp contrast with what Trump said at a South Carolina rally on Friday. There, he accused his Democratic critics of “politicizing” the coronavirus outbreak, calling it “their new hoax.”
At least 64 cases have been confirmed in the US, with several new cases reported in California, Oregon and Washington state. The victims there have no known overseas travel or other known exposure to the disease, leading to fears that the virus has gone airborne. There are more than 85,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with at least 2,933 confirmed deaths.
Washington state officials said Friday that a high school student in Snohomish County, near Seattle, had the virus. A woman in her 50s in King County who recently traveled to South Korea was also reported with the disease.
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