By Alberto Garcia
(Story updated March 4, 2020 @ 10:01 am)
After the first US death connected to the coronavirus was reported in the state of Washington on Saturday, eight more people in Washington have died from the illness.
The first patient was diagnosed on Friday along with an unrelated woman in the same hospital near Seattle, and a third was reported on Sunday. Sunday also saw the first case reported in Snohomish County, Washington. That patient has now died, bringing to total deaths in the US to nine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, now appears to be spreading in the US to people that have not had any foreign travel or knowingly been in contact with someone who has traveled to affected areas. There are now three such cases, known as community spread, in the U.S.
In total, 115 people in the US have been confirmed to have the coronavirus and several hundred patients are under observation with symptoms consistent with the virus. California health officials have confirmed that 20 cases have been confirmed in the state.
Confirmation of new cases has been delayed because of a backlog in testing for the virus within the U.S. Test kits distributed by the CDC required that most of the testing happen at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. Federal health officials now say they have resolved the issue and are now working to distribute new test kits across the country that can perform the tests independently.
A delay in confirming a case at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento was caused because the patient didn’t meet the CDC’s threshold to approve a coronavirus test at first, and the test was administered days later.
124 health care workers who may have been exposed to the coronavirus at UC Davis Medical Center were sent home and required to quarantine themselves during the virus’ 14-day incubation period.
The fastest growth in confirmed cases has been in South Korea where over 800 cases were confirmed between Friday and Saturday. That country now has 5,621 confirmed cases, the second-highest behind China, and 28 deaths.
But the country with the highest percentage of deaths is Iran, where 2,922 cases have been confirmed, and 92 deaths have occurred. The country’s vice-president contracted the virus, as did its director of health services.
Italy has the fourth highest cases at 2,502 and 79 deaths.
Of the 94,262 confirmed cases worldwide, China has the most with 80,270, and 2,981 deaths so far. A total of 3,214 people have died from the illness.
Japan (304 cases, 6 deaths), Germany (244 cases, no deaths), France (212 cases, 4 deaths), and Spain (193 cases, no deaths) have reported more cases than the US.
President Trump held his second press conference on the coronavirus on Saturday, which included Vice-President Mike Pence and top health officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield.