01 March 2020

Kathy E. Gill

On Saturday, public health officials announced that a King County man had died after being diagnosed with coronavirus/COVID-19. His was not only the first death in the U.S. but also appeared to be via community spread. That is, he had not traveled to an affected country and had no known contact with someone who had. He was in his 50s and had underlying health issues.

Officials announced on Sunday that a second Washington man, a patient in his 70s at EvergreenHealth, had died of the disease on Saturday.

In a news conference at 1 pm on Saturday, EvergreenHealth discussed an outbreak at a Kirkland, Washington nursing facility. Two have tested positive for COVID-19, a health worker in her 40s and a resident in her 70s. EvergreenHealth told the CDC on Saturday that “approximately 27 of the 108 residents and 25 of the 180 staff have some symptoms.”

The International Association of Fire Fighters reported that the 25 members who had responded to calls for help at the nursing facility are being quarantined. Officials had ducked a reporter’s question about the fire fighters at Saturday’s press conference.

On Friday 28 February, the Snohomish Health District in Washington state announced that a high school student had tested positive for the disease. The student may be the youngest case in the country; that patient visited Seattle Children’s North Clinic on 24 February. The CDC will confirm that assessment. Jackson High School was closed over the weekend and there will be no classes on Monday. 

In a long Twitter thread late Saturday, Dr. Trevor  Bedford, a genetic and infectious disease researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, linked the case of the high school student with that of the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with COVID-19, which was announced 21 January 2020. Both live in Snohomish County, Washington. Community sharing seems to have been going on for weeks.

Trump Administration and COVID-19

Vice President Mike Pence, the point person for national response to COVID-19, is requiring all government health officials to coordinate public comment with his office. As a result, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cancelled his slated weekend appearance on the Sunday political TV shows. Fauci, who has advised presidents since Reagan in 1984, told associates that the White House "had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance." Here is his transcript from 16 February 2020 on Face the Nation.

Vice President Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made the rounds on Sunday, touting new tests.

As of 29 February 2020, the CDC had tested only 472 samples, in part because of the narrow focus on travel. In comparison, China can run 1.6 million tests a week and had five commercial tests on the market a month after the outbreak was public. Because of CDC focus on travel, it initially refused the request to test a Californian who is accepted as the first known patient who contracted the disease via community spread.

Washington State began testing for the virus on Friday.

Around the country this weekend

Global news

In its 28 February 2020 COVID-19 press briefing, the WHO Director-General reported that more than 20 vaccines are in development globally.

Schools in South Korea will remain closed until 23 March 2020.

Case count

01 March, domestic

01 March, global

  • Globally: 87,137 confirmed (1,739 new)

  • China: 79,968 confirmed (579 new) and 2,873 deaths (35 new)

  • Outside of China: 7,169 confirmed (1,160 new) in 58 countries (5 new) and 104 deaths (18 new)

Situation report, 41

What you can do

  1. Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. 

  2. Stay home when sick

  3. Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including handwashing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth. 

  4. Stay away from people who are ill, especially if you are 60 and older or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system. 

Via Seattle-King County Public Health