Updated: 2020-03-03 04:50
Six people in the Seattle area have died of illness caused by the new coronavirus, health officials said on Monday, as authorities across the United States scrambled to prepare for more infections, with the emphasis on ratcheting up the number of available test kits.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, chief health officer for the Seattle and King County Public Health agency, announced the increase in fatalities from the previous two in Washington state.
Eight of the 14 total cases in his jurisdiction are linked to a nursing facility, including four deaths, Duchin said at a news conference. At least four of the six people who have died were elderly and/or had underlying health conditions, Duchin said.
The total number of cases in Washington state was now 18, he said.
“We expect the number of cases will continue to increase in the coming days and weeks, and we are taking this situation extremely seriously,” Ducin said. However, he also said the vast majority of diagnosed patients have mild to moderate disease and do not need hospitalization.
Duchin said his county was not recommending school closures or cancellation of any events at this point.
As of Sunday, the number of cases in the United States had risen to 91, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said earlier on Monday.
There has been a jump in presumed cases reported by the states to 27 from seven. The CDC will confirm the tests sent by states with their own diagnostics. So far, 10 states, including California and New York, have confirmed or presumed coronavirus cases.
U.S. stocks pared gains following the announcement of an increase in fatalities and the number of cases. World stock markets, after a weeklong slide on coronavirus fears, on Monday regained a measure of calm amid hope of a possible stimulus.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state has one confirmed case, welcomed a CDC decision allowing New York to test for the virus that has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide since it emerged in China in December.
“I would like to have a goal of 1,000-tests-per-day capacity within one week because, again, the more testing, the better,” Cuomo said at a briefing on Monday.
Federal health officials have said the number of test kits for coronavirus would be radically expanded in coming weeks. The United States appeared poised for a spike in cases, partly because there would be more testing to confirm infections.