Washington state officials had announced that a covid-19 death had occurred in King County, near Seattle. A news conference is scheduled for later today, and the hospital in Kirkland, Wash. released a statement.
The White House also announced new travel restrictions on Iran, South Korea and Italy. The Trump administration said Saturday that the existing travel ban on Iran would extend to foreign nationals who had been in the country the past 14 days. The State Department also ratcheted up its warning advising Americans not to travel to parts of Italy and South Korea affected by the virus.
The first covid-19 patient to die in the United States came to EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Wash., with “serious respiratory issues,” the hospital said in a statement Saturday, though it remains unclear when the patient was admitted, when the symptoms first appeared and how long it took health officials to test the person for the novel coronavirus. The identity of the patient was not released.
According to EvergreenHealth’s statement, the patient was tested for covid-19 per guidelines set forth by the CDC. The test came back positive, the hospital said. A second patient also tested positive and is in isolation receiving appropriate treatment.
Trump said additional cases are likely in the United States, but he said the illness will be survivable for the vast majority who contract it. He called for calm and said he will meet at the White House on Monday with representatives of major drug companies about an accelerated vaccine.
Vice President Pence said the risk to most Americans remains low.
Pence and Trump addressed reporters in a hastily called news conference at the White House. Trump assured Americans that “our country is prepared for any circumstance.”
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration expanded coronavirus testing by speeding up hospitals’ abilities to test, though some worried the changes fell short in reducing logistical burdens.
Alarm has spread nationally since late Friday when health officials in Washington state, Oregon and California on Friday reported of new cases among people who have not traveled recently to countries hit hard by the outbreak or come into contact with anyone known to have the disease, which public health officials refer to as community transmission.
The four new cases announced Friday bring the total number of covid-19 cases detected through the U.S. public-health system to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Washington state announced late Friday that a high school student in Snohomish County, just north of Seattle, tested positive for the virus and was in home isolation in a suspected community transmission case.
Earlier Friday, Oregon health officials reported a presumptive positive test in an elementary school employee with no known travel history or contact with infected individuals. California also reported a second case of community transmission, in Santa Clara County, after reporting the nation’s first such case, in Solano County, earlier in the week.
The Washington State Department of Health and health officials from Seattle and King County said they would offer more details on the first U.S. death related to coronavirus at a 1 p.m. Pacific time (4 p.m. Eastern time) news conference.
More coronavirus infections were reported internationally from South Korea to France to Qatar on Saturday. Iran reported more than 200 new cases — as well as nine more deaths, adding to the highest death toll from the virus outside China.
China reported its lowest manufacturing numbers on record for the month of February, as the epidemic-stricken economy ground to an unprecedented standstill.
France banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people after the Health Ministry confirmed 19 new cases late Friday, a nearly 100 percent increase since the day before.