First U.S. coronavirus death confirmed in Washington state

A person in Washington state died after contracting the novel coronavirus, health authorities announced on Saturday. It is the first death attributed to the virus in the U.S.

“We are dealing with an emergency evolving situation,” Amy Reynolds, of the Washington state health department, told the Associated Press. A spokesperson for EvergreenHealth Medical Center in King County, Washington confirmed to the AP that the patient died there, but gave no other details.

“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,” Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, said in a statement. “We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus.”

The news of the death comes one day after three new cases of coronavirus with unknown origin were reported in the United States. Before this week, the only confirmed cases of the virus in the country originated after a person traveled to an area of the world hard-hit by the disease, or developed after a person had close contact with a confirmed case. Cases with unknown origins are alarming to health authorities because their presence indicates that the disease is likely circulating within the population.

The virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, has spread to 57 countries around the world since it emerged in China in December. The respiratory disease has infected more than 85,000 people and killed more than 2,900. In the United States, 66 people with COVID-19 have been identified.

The healthcare industry is bracing for the virus. In California, 124 nurses and other healthcare workers at UC Davis Hospital, have been told to quarantine themselves at home, a healthcare union said on Friday. They are believed to have been exposed to the virus at the hospital where one coronavirus patient sought treatment.

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