Last night, we began a special series here on the Cascadia Advocate offering the latest accurate, scientifically vetted information about the novel coronavirus. Since we published that first installment, there have been several new developments, including the first death attributed to COVID-19 in the United States, so it’s a good time to publish our second installment of COVID-19 Update.
We begin with a joint press release from our public health authorities.
Public Health – Seattle & King County, Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reporting three presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including one person who died. This brings the total of presumptive positive cases in King County to four.
- Two of the confirmed cases are associated with LifeCare nursing facility in Kirkland, King County, Washington:
- One is a health care worker from LifeCare. She is a woman in her 40s, is currently in satisfactory condition at Overlake Hospital, and she has no known travel outside the United States.
- The second case, a woman in her 70’s, is a resident at LifeCare and is in serious condition at EvergreenHealth Hospital.
- In addition, over 50 individuals associated with LifeCare are reportedly ill with respiratory symptoms or hospitalized with pneumonia or other respiratory conditions of unknown cause and are being tested for COVID-19. Additional positive cases are expected.
- The death occurred in a patient at EvergreenHealth Hospital but was not a resident of the long-term care facility.
Public Health – Seattle & King County is current working with LifeCare to provide care for ill patients while protecting uninfected patients. The CDC is sending a team of epidemiologists to King County to support our efforts to identify, isolate and test all of those who may be at risk because of these new cases. Public Health is at the very beginning stages of this investigation and new details and information will emerge over the next days and weeks.
“This is a tragic loss of life and we share our heartfelt condolences with the family,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “While the vast majority of cases of COVID-19 are believed to be mild, the virus can be a very serious infection that can lead to death. Protecting the health of our community and supporting the care of health care workers is our top priority.”
A press conference was held at 1 PM today to announce this news.
You might have heard from earlier news reports that this first fatality was a woman in her fifties. However, it was actually a man — Donald Trump once again gave out bad information while addressing reporters.
Governor Jay Inslee issued a statement after the first death was announced.
“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus,” Inslee said.
“In partnership with the Washington State Department of Health, the Washington State Department of Emergency Management and local and community health partners, we are strengthening our preparedness and response efforts. I am committed to keeping Washingtonians healthy, safe and informed.”
The governor followed up by declaring a state of emergency. State agencies have been ordered to utilize all resources necessary to combat COVID-19.
“This will allow us to get the resources we need,” Inslee said. “This is a time to take common-sense, proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of those who live in Washington state. Our state agency directors have been actively preparing since the nation’s first case appeared in Snohomish County. Washingtonians can be assured we’ve taken this threat seriously and have been working in collaboration with our health care partners to develop plans and procedures to prepare for what could likely be a world-wide pandemic.”
Inslee’s proclamation authorizes the use of the Washington National Guard, if necessary. You can read the emergency order in full below:COVID-19 emergency proclamation by Governor Jay Inslee
Finally, we heartily recommend this fine piece by Zeynep Tufekci, published in the Scientific American, which explains why you should calmly prepare for COVID-19.
Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind.
We should prepare, not because we may feel personally at risk, but so that we can help lessen the risk for everyone.
We should prepare not because we are facing a doomsday scenario out of our control, but because we can alter every aspect of this risk we face as a society.