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Washington state patient is first US death from novel coronavirus

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Posted at 10:06 AM, Feb 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-29 16:54:20-05

(KGTV) — Washington state health officials say a patient has died of the novel coronavirus, the first COVID-19 related death in the United States.

The victim was described as a male patient at EvergreenHealth Medical Center, who was in his 50s with underlying medical conditions.

The governor of Washington state declared a state of emergency Saturday after a man's death.

More than 50 people in a Kirkland, Wash., Life Care nursing facility are sick and being tested for the virus, health officials added. Two people — a woman in her 40s who works at the facility and a resident in her 70s — have tested positive for the virus.

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The new virus is part of the coronavirus family and is related to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

Officials say COVID-19 can cause a fever, coughing, wheezing, and pneumonia, and spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to influenza.

Earlier this week, officials say three patients infected by the virus through unknown means were reported. Those patients — an older Northern California woman with chronic health conditions, a high school student in Everett, Washington and an employee at a Portland, Oregon-area school, according to the AP — hadn't traveled overseas recently or had any known contact to someone who is infected.

The California Department of Public Health said Friday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would provide the state with enough test kits to test up to 1,200 people a day for the virus.

Worldwide there are about 83,000 COVID-19 cases and have been 2,800 deaths, many of which have been in China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.