The Washington Department of Health on Saturday confirmed the first U.S. coronavirus-related death, according to a press release.
The person lived in King County, which includes Seattle, according to the Washington Department of Health, KIRO 7 reported.
Washington state health officials will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. PST Saturday to give details.
“Health officials will be providing the latest updates regarding novel coronavirus cases in King County, including new people identified with the infection, one of whom died,” according to a news release issued by the state Department of Health and Public Health Seattle-King County on Saturday morning.
“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to his family and friends. We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus.”
He added: “We are strengthening our preparedness and response efforts. I am committed to keeping Washingtonians healthy, safe and informed.”
“Three new confirmed or presumptive cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 contracted from an unknown source were reported Friday, bringing the total number of what could be ‘community spread’ cases in the United States to four,” NBC News reported.
The patients from these four cases have no known travel history or exposure to someone who had traveled or been infected. Not all four have been confirmed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing, but they tested positive locally.
New cases were reported in Washington state, Oregon and California on Friday. Earlier this week, a patient at a Sacramento hospital with no known source of infection was confirmed by CDC testing to have the illness.
“The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is considered small. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China,” the Associated Press reported.
Most infections result in mild symptoms, including coughing and fever, though some can become more serious and lead to pneumonia. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are especially vulnerable. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
Health officials in California, Oregon and Washington state worried about the novel coronavirus spreading through West Coast communities after confirming three patients were infected by unknown means.
The patients — an older Northern California woman with chronic health conditions, a high school student in Everett, Washington, and an employee at a Portland, Oregon-area school — hadn’t recently traveled overseas or had any known close contact with a traveler or an infected person, authorities said.
Earlier U.S. cases include three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak; 14 people who returned from China, or their spouses; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who were flown to U.S. military bases in California and Texas for quarantining.