COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
COVID-19 (Coronavirus; CDC graphic)

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.

Want to watch it and hear the Q&A your­self? Video is avail­able here.

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.

The Wash­ing­ton Post has pub­lished a sto­ry dis­cussing Trump’s error.

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:

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.

Read the whole thing.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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