King County in Washington State With Ten Coronavirus Deaths Urges ALL its 2.2MILLION Residents to work From Home, Pulls 22,000 Students From School and tells Everyone Over 60 to Stay Indoors
March 5, 2020
King County health officials urged businesses to allow employees to telecommute for the next three weeks.
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- King County health officials also recommended that higher-risk groups - including people over 60 and who have underlying health issues - to stay home and away from large social gatherings
- Northshore School District, which serves 22,000 students in King and Snohomish counties, announced late Wednesday that it was closing all 36 of its schools after a parent tested 'presumptive positive' for coronavirus
- Washington has been at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, with 39 cases and 10 deaths
- Most of the state's deaths were patients at a Seattle-area nursing home that is now under federal investigation
- State officials have asked voters not to lick mail-in ballots for the March 10 primary
- 11 people in the US have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus and 158 people have tested positive nationwide
- Ten of the deaths have occurred in Washington state while California recorded its first death on Wednesday
- The California death was an elderly patient with underlying health conditions who was likely exposed on a cruise ship from San Francisco to Mexico in early February
- The number of New York cases jumped to 11 on Wednesday after a Manhattan attorney's wife, two children, neighbor and friend's family of five tested positive
Residents of a Washington county where 31 people have tested positive for coronavirus and nine people have died are being advised to work from home to avoid possible exposure to the killer strain.
Public health officials in King County, which includes Seattle and is home to over 2.2 million people, have urged local businesses to allow employees to telecommute for the next three weeks in an effort to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.
They are also recommending that higher-risk groups - including people over the age of 60, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems - stay home and away from large social gatherings.
The latest recommendations announced Wednesday came after an employee at Amazon's Seattle headquarters was confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus, potentially exposing some 50,000 others who work at the plant.
Hours later officials confirmed that an employee at Facebook's Stadium East office in Seattle had also tested positive. The company said the office will be closed until at least March 9.
Northshore School District, which serves 22,000 students across King and Snohomish counties, announced late Wednesday that it was closing all 36 of its schools after a parent or volunteer at Woodmoor Elementary tested 'presumptive positive' for coronavirus.
Northshore Superintendent Michelle Reid issued a statement saying the schools will remain closed for up to 14 days 'while we continue to monitor the situation and health department recommendations'.
Reid said administrators plan to begin conducting classes online on Monday.
She noted that multiple individuals across the district are under self-quarantine after being exposed to the virus at a nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland where the majority of the 39 Washington state cases have occurred.
Authorities launched a federal investigation into the nursing home, Life Care Center, on Wednesday.
Seema Verma, head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, on Wednesday said the agency is sending inspectors to Life Care along with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to figure out what happened and determine whether the nursing home followed guidelines for preventing infections.
Last April, the state fined Life Care $67,000 over infection-control deficiencies following two flu outbreaks that affected 17 patients and staff.
An unannounced follow-up inspection in June determined that Life Care had corrected the problems, Verma said.
Health officials in North Carolina reported that a person from Wake County tested positive for the illness after visiting the nursing home.
The patient's flight from the Seattle area to the Raleigh-Durham airport raised fears other passengers were exposed to the virus.
'My understanding is we have the manifest. Now the trick is to go find them,' said Robert Redfield of the CDC.
Life Care Center said on its website that it is screening employees for symptoms before they start work and as they leave.
The nursing home is prohibiting visits from residents' family members.
WHAT ARE THE CORONAVIRUS SYMPTOMS?
Meanwhile, public officials in Washington are facing increased pressure to take more aggressive steps against the outbreak, including closing schools and canceling large events.
While the state and Seattle have declared emergencies, giving leaders broad powers to suspend activities, they have not issued any orders to do so.
'We have encouraged people who are responsible for large gatherings to give consideration whether it really makes sense to carry those on right now,' Gov Jay Inslee said.
'Right now, we are deferring to the judgment ... of these organizations.'
While some individual schools and businesses have shut down, the governor said large-scale school closings have not been ordered because 'there are so many ramifications for families and businesses,' especially for health care workers who might not be able to go to work because of child care responsibilities.
The state health department issued a notice on Twitter asking residents not to lick their mail-in ballots ahead of the primary on March 10.
'Whether healthy or sick, please don't lick!' the appeal stated.
*For more information about Coronaviruses: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html
The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 11 on Wednesday with a patient succumbing in California - the first reported fatality outside Washington state.
Officials in California's Placer County, near Sacramento, said an elderly person who tested positive after returning from a San Francisco-to-Mexico cruise had died. The victim had underlying health problems, authorities said.
Shortly before the California death was announced, Princess Cruise Lines notified passengers of its Grand Princess that federal health officials are investigating a 'small cluster' of coronavirus cases connected to the ship's mid-February voyage.
It asked current passengers to stay in their cabins until were cleared by medical staff and said those who had been on the previous voyage should contact their doctor if they develop fever or other symptoms.
The Grand Princess is at sea off Mexico and will return early to San Francisco, where CDC and company officials will meet to determine the course of action, the cruise line said.
In Los Angeles, a contract medical worker who was conducting screenings at the city's main airport has tested positive for the virus.
The person wore protective equipment while on the job so it was unclear how the worker contracted the virus, Homeland Security officials said.
In New York, health officials put hundreds of residents in self-quarantine after members of two families in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle were diagnosed with the virus - bring the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 11.
Gov Andrew Cuomo said the disease appeared to have spread from a Manhattan lawyer, 50, to his wife, 20-year-old son, 14-year-old daughter, a neighbor and another family of five.
A female healthcare worker who has not been linked to the attorney had earlier tested positive after returning from a trip to Iran.
Health officials said the lawyer, who is in intensive care at the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, was suffering from severe pneumonia, which put him in more danger than others who have also tested positive.
His family remain quarantined in their home in New Rochelle in Westchester County. The neighbor, who initially drove the attorney to the hospital when he started suffering from coronavirus symptoms last Friday night, is also under self-quarantine at home.
Following the positive tests, Cuomo said about 1,000 people in Westchester County and New York City will be contacted by health professionals and asked to self-quarantine.
They include some 300 people from New Rochelle synagogue the infected family attends, two people at the son's university, an unconfirmed number of students at the daughter's school in the Bronx, seven employees and one intern at the Manhattan law firm and eight staffers at New York Presbyterian-Lawrence Hospital.
The lawyer commuted every day on the Metro-North Railroad from his home in New Rochelle to his small law firm across from Grand Central Terminal. His wife and one of their four children also work at the firm.
Seven law firm employees were identified as being at risk of coronavirus after having close, prolonged contact with the infected attorney.
Yeshiva University, the private Jewish university where the lawyer's diagnosed 20-year-old son is a student, canceled classes at its Washington Heights campus on Wednesday as a precaution.
The SAR High School in the Bronx where the lawyer's diagnosed 14-year-old daughter is a student was shut down after his positive test was announced Tuesday.
The Westchester Torah Academy where the children of the other family who tested positive had already decided to close until Friday as a precaution.
Health officials on Tuesday directed the family's synagogue, Young Israel of New Rochelle, to halt services immediately. Congregants who attended February 22 services as well as a funeral and a bat mitzvah on February 23 were directed to quarantine themselves at least through Sunday.
The sudden outbreak came after New York health officials revealed on Monday that a female healthcare worker in Manhattan, aged in her 30s, was confirmed to be the state's first case.
In what he said was a piece of good news, Cuomo announced that tests in other suspected cases around the state had come back negative, including for the husband of the healthcare worker.
The husband and wife had recently traveled together to Iran where the disease is widespread.
Cuomo, as he has done in recent days, sought to reassure the public that the disease is often passed by close contact, not casual contact like riding in the same subway car as a person who may be sick.
'We have an epidemic caused by coronavirus but we have a pandemic that is caused by fear,' Cuomo said on Wednesday.
'There are going to be many, many people who test positive. By definition, the more you test, the more people you will find who test positive.
'It is easily transmitted, but 80 percent of the people who get the virus will self-resolve. The other 20 percent may be medically ill and even require hospitalization, in which case we have that capacity.'
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE 11 US PATIENTS WHO DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS
The World Health Organization has since warned that the fatality rate of the virus (3.4 percent) is higher than initially thought - making it more than three times deadlier than the flu.
Cuomo had earlier quoted the estimated fatality rate as being 1.4 percent, which he attributed to the CDC. That rate was based on a Chinese study that had factored a bigger group of patients who were both young and old.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading expert on coronavirus in the US, told Congress on Wednesday it was still too early to determine accurate mortality rates of the disease in America because it wasn't yet clear how many had been infected.
U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday agreed on an emergency funding package worth more than $7 billion to address the spread of the disease. The bill would be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives later on Wednesday.
The number of cases across the country continued to increase on Wednesday with an Amazon employee at the company's Seattle headquarters - which is just 12 miles from the outbreak nursing home - testing positive for coronavirus.
Amazon confirmed late Tuesday that the employees had tested positive for coronavirus after going home sick from work on February 25. An Amazon spokeperson told DailyMail.com: 'We're supporting the affected employee who is in quarantine.'
The internal email sent to Amazon employees in Seattle and nearby Bellvue said that any employees who had been 'in close contact' with the infected worker were notified separately, the Seattle Times reports.
The email instructed employees experiencing symptoms to stay at home and seek medical attention.
'Your health is our top priority and we are continuing with enhanced deep cleaning and sanitization in the office,' the message said.
Amazon has more than 50,000 employees in Seattle and more than 275,000 full-time workers across the U.S. Last week, Amazon became one of the first U.S. companies to crack down on employee travel due to the outbreak, banning all 'non-essential' work trips.
Washington state has become an early coronavirus hot zone as the virus rapidly spreads across the U.S. The number of infections in the U.S. has now climbed past 150 with cases scattered across at least 15 states.
'What is happening now in the United States may be the beginning of what is happening abroad,' said Dr Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Messonnier noted that in China, where the outbreak began more than two months ago, older and sicker people are about twice as likely to become seriously ill as those who are younger and healthier. Most cases, however, have been mild.
In suburban Seattle, 27 firefighters and paramedics who responded to calls at the infected nursing home were tested for the virus on Tuesday using a drive-thru system set up in a hospital parking area.
The nursing home outbreak is also the source of the first case in North Carolina, it was revealed on Tuesday. A man in Wake County tested positive for the virus after visiting the care facility in Washington and then flying back home.
It was revealed on Tuesday that two people who had died last week at the nursing home had since tested positive for the disease.
One of those Life Care residents, a male in his 50s, died last Wednesday after being taken to a Seattle hospital. A woman in her 80s, who was a resident of Life Care but was never hospitalized, died at her family home that same day.
Test results only just confirmed that they both had coronavirus.
Officials have not yet determined how the senior living facility became the epicenter of where the majority of deadly cases have been linked to.
The jump in the death toll came as health officials promised to ramp up coronavirus testing across the US and vowed to test a million people by the end of the week.
Officials have also revealed that at least a quarter of the cases across the country have been transferred through communities rather than travel.
An increase in testing for the coronavirus has started to shed light on how the illness has spread in the US with newly confirmed cases in New York, Georgia, Florida and New Hampshire.
Florida declared a public health emergency after confirming its three cases. A man in his 60s with no recent travel history was diagnosed on Sunday with coronavirus.
Meanwhile, a 29-year-old woman who had recently returned from Italy tested positive on Sunday before her sister became the third case on Tuesday.
That woman claims she told the CDC of her symptoms after flying from Italy to New York on her way back to Florida. She claims the CDC told her she was okay to continue on the flight from New York to Tampa. She was tested for coronavirus after arriving back in Tampa last week.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he expects community-related cases to grow in the coming weeks.
'My concern is as the next week or two or three go by, we're going to see a lot more community-related cases,' he said. 'That's of great concern.'
The total number of cases in the US includes people who tested positive after returning from travel to outbreak areas in other parts of the world, their close contacts and infections that appear to be from community spread - people who did not travel or have known contact with other infected people.
Dr Fauci, who is the top coronavirus expert in the country, said community spread made it almost impossible to predict how many cases there will be.
'The very fact that you have community spread… the source of these infections are not entirely known. People are cropping up with infections and you can't trace where they got it,' Dr Fauci said.
State and local authorities have been stepping up testing for the illness following a debacle with faulty kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that officials say delayed results.
In response to the faulty tests, the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend allowed state and local labs to develop their own tests for coronavirus. It will see an increase in tests being carried out, according to FDA Commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn, who said he expects more than 1 million people to be tested within the next week.
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