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US Coronavirus Deaths Rise as COVID-19 Continues Spread

MAR 02, 2020 | GRANT M. GALLAGHER
This is a developing story and updates will be provided as information becomes available.

On March 1, the Washington State Department of Health confirmed a second US fatality linked to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Like the first COVID-19 death reported, the patient died in King County, Washington. On March 2, the total confirmed number of COVID-19 related in Washington rose to 5. 

The first patient, confirmed on February 29, was in his 50s. The second case, a patient in his 70s, was confirmed on March 1. 

The second patient was a resident at a long term care facility in Kirkland, Washington. At least 6 cases have been linked to Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, and more residents are being tested.

At a press conference in which the 5 fatal cases were discussed, Washington state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy was informed by Dr. Ettore Palazzo, chief medical and quality officer at EvergreenHealth, of a 6th death in Snohomish County. 

"So six should be the correct number,” Lofy clarified. 

“At some point, we’re going to be shifting our approach from counting every case to focusing on outbreaks, perhaps cases that occur at hospitals, and we won’t be able to do the kind of individual case follow up and case management that we’re doing early on during this so called containment phase of the epidemic," Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said. 

The Washington State Department of Health has rolled out a diagnostic program which will conduct up to 200 tests per day around Washington. The first US case of COVID-19 was reported in the state on January 21.

Jeffrey Duchin, MD, health officer for Seattle & King County, suggested that the first patient who died acquired COVID-19 through community transmission within the United States because the patient had not had known coronavirus case contacts or a relevant history of travel. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that they had confirmed a case likely linked to community spread of the virus on February 27.

"We now know that the virus is actively spreading in some communities," Lofy said.

Research from the Seattle Flu Study team indicates that the coronavirus may have spread undetected in Washington State for weeks. 

The total number of cases in the United States rose from 65 on Friday night to 89 by the start of the week. Cases were confirmed for the first time in Florida and New York.

At present time, there are no approved therapies for the treatment of COVID-19. Remdesivir is under investigation as a possible treatment option. Other efforts include a partnership between Regeneron and the US Department of Health and Human Services to develop monoclonal antibody treatments. It does not appear that corticosteroids are a useful addition to treatment. 

It was recently announced that the first clinical trial evaluating experimental treatments has been launched in the United States. The randomized controlled trial will assess the activity of the antiviral remdesivir among hospitalized adults at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

To track the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
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