As of press time, there are 39 confirmed cases in Washington, including 10 deaths.
Snohomish County: 8 cases, including 1 death.
King County: 31 cases, including 9 deaths.
*Information from the Washington Department of Health
SEATTLE — The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 11 on March 4 with a victim succumbing in California—the nation’s first reported fatality outside Washington .
Officials in Placer County, northwest of Sacramento, said an elderly person who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a San Francisco-Mexico cruise had died. The victim had underlying health conditions, authorities said.
Washington also announced another death, bringing its total to 10. Most of those who died were residents of a nursing home in Kirkland. At least 31 cases have been reported in the Seattle area, where researchers say the virus may have been circulating undetected for weeks.
Public officials in Washington faced pressure to take more aggressive steps, including closing schools and canceling large events. Some individual schools and businesses have closed, with schools considering whether to plan for online classes in the event of prolonged shutdowns.
Washington and Seattle have declared emergencies, which gives leaders broad powers to suspend activities. But so far no direct orders have been issued.
Jennifer Hayles, 41, of Kirkland, said she was appalled that Gov. Jay Inslee and health officials hadn’t canceled the upcoming Emerald City Comic Con—an event that draws close to 100,000 people each year. Hayles said she spent hundreds of dollars on tickets and other items related to the event but will have to pass on attending because she has a compromised immune system.
Amid the rising fears, a school district north of Seattle closed for training on conducting remote lessons via computer in case schools have to be shut down for an extended period, while Eastside Prep in Kirkland said it would conduct online-only classes through the end of March.
A Department of Homeland Security facility just south of Seattle instructed all its employees to work from home after a worker became ill after visiting the nursing home at the center of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, Inslee visited the International District clinic of International Community Health Services (ICHS) on March 3, to meet with ICHS leadership and hold a news conference addressing the state’s efforts to address the outbreak. Inslee and Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy reiterated the importance of being vigilant about washing hands and staying home if you become sick.
“We are all in this together,” Inslee said. “We are all potential subjects and we all got to pull together on this issue.”
Inslee’s tour, scheduled before the spread of COVID-19, was originally planned to discuss barriers to health care coverage and the state’s efforts to expand coverage with Cascade Care, the nation’s first public option for health insurance.
Also on March 3, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued a Proclamation of Civil Emergency, which grants her the ability to exercise emergency authority to address any immediate dangers to the public as a result of COVID-19.
Durkan issued a Directive to her Cabinet to formalize a series of ongoing actions within the City’s scope to respond to COVID-19. Among several actions, the Directive asks City departments to reiterate employee guidance on safety and best practices, prioritize City efforts on behalf of vulnerable populations including individuals experiencing homelessness, and ensure proper communications to immigrant communities, including non-English speaking populations.