The first death from the novel coronavirus was confirmed in Washington state, along with the first infection in a healthcare professional (HCP) and the first potential outbreak in a long-term care facility, CDC officials said on Saturday.
Washington state public health officials confirmed three presumptive positive COVID-19 cases, including a patient who died, a man in his late 50s with underlying health conditions. Officials said the patient was eligible for testing because of the recent change in CDC testing criteria, and the case was brought to public health officials’ attention because of it. The death does not appear to be linked to the long-term care facility, officials said, though the investigation is ongoing.
The second patient was also the first healthcare worker in the U.S. to test positive for COVID-19. Described as a woman in her 40s, she worked at the long-term care facility and is currently in satisfactory condition at a local hospital. The third patient is a woman in her 70s, who is a resident of the long-term care facility, Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington. She is described as being in “serious condition.”
In addition, Washington state public health officials said there are about 108 residents and 180 staff at the long-term care facility. There have been reports of about 27 residents as well as 25 staff with symptoms (some hospitalized with pneumonia of unknown cause), officials said. All will be tested for COVID-19.
Officials said they are “cohorting patients who test positive,” and encouraged the use of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers at these facilities, including eye protection. Public health officials are sending in teams to the facility to try to investigate further.
On the subject of testing, CDC officials said that “newly manufactured test kits have been provided,” with enough kits to test 75,000 people.
Washington officials maintained that while the risk to the U.S. public is still low, if Washington state starts to see more community spread, the risk to the public there may be increasing.
“If we start to see more spread in Washington, we may consider measures like canceling large public events,” officials said.
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