A Washington resident has died from coronavirus on Saturday, marking the first death from the virus in the United States.
The state’s health department confirmed the news via tweet Saturday morning, giving no additional details until a press conference will be held later today.
The Washington State Department of Health confirms the first U.S. death from COVID-19 has occurred here in the state of Washington. We will share more information at a media briefing today at 1pm. Information to watch via livestream will be shared here. #COVID19
— WA Dept. of Health (@WADeptHealth) February 29, 2020
Washington state had three confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Friday; one in King County and two in Snohomish County. It’s not clear which resident died on Saturday.
The first resident in Snohomish County was confirmed positive on January 21. The resident was described as a man in his 30s who had returned from travel in Wuhan, China – the heart of the coronavirus outbreak.
The King County resident confirmed positive on Friday had also returned from travel in Daegu, South Korea and was described as a woman in her 50s.
The second Snohomish County resident is a minor under the age of 18 who had not traveled at all, and was described as Washington’s first coronavirus patient of unknown origin.
“We don’t know how or where the new Snohomish County case was infected. We are working hard to find and identify how the patients were exposed as well as tracing people who might have been exposed to this patient,” the state health department said.
The resident is the second American to be diagnosed with coronavirus from “community spread” — without traveling to an affected area or having known close contact with an infected individual.
“Now that we are able to expedite test results here at the Public Health Lab in Shoreline [Wash.], we’re getting results on suspected local cases a lot faster,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Given the extent of global spread, we expect to identify more individuals with COVID-19 in Washington. We want to emphasize the importance of practicing good health habits.”
President Trump said during a press conference on Saturday that 22 Americans had been diagnosed with coronavirus in the country, while dozens were diagnosed after their repatriation from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.
During the press conference, Vice President Mike Pence – who was recently appointed to lead the U.S. coronavirus response – announced new travel restrictions and warnings. Travel to Iran is banned as the country is having swelling coronavirus numbers. Pence also warned Americans not to travel to Italy and South Korea, which have also been a source of rising coronavirus infections.