A patient infected with COVID-19 in Washington state has died, becoming the first person to die of the new virus in the United States. The King County patient is believed to have contracted the virus from “community spread” rather than travel, officials said.
The man who died was in his 50s and had underlying health conditions, according to health officials in Washington state. There was a bit of confusion on that end because President Donald Trump had said in a news briefing Saturday that the person was a “medically high-risk patient in her late 50s.” Trump characterized har as “a wonderful woman.” Earlier, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee had referred to the patient as male. “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,” Inslee said. “We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus.” Inslee declared a state of emergency Saturday and directed agencies to use “all resources necessary” to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
Amid the increase in cases, the U.S. banned travel to Iran, extending the existing travel ban to any foreign nationals who had been in that country over the past 14 days. The State Department also increased travel warnings and is recommending Americans not travel to parts of Italy and South Korea. Vice President Mike Pence announced the new measures alongside Trump, who said his administration was considering additional travel restrictions, including possibly closing the U.S. border with Mexico. “We’re thinking about all borders,” Trump said.
Trump said there are 22 people in the United States infected by the new coronavirus, including at least four who don’t have any history of travel or known contacts with anyone who has traveled that would tie them to the virus. These four cases include, a woman in Oregon, a high school student in Washington state, an older woman in Santa Clara County, California, and another woman in Solano County.
The number of confirmed cases around the world crossed the 85,000-mark Saturday. More than 79,000 of the total were in mainland China. A total of 2,941 deaths were reported, including 43 in Iran, 29 in Italy, and 16 in South Korea. The largest outbreak outside China is in South Korea, which reported 813 new cases Saturday to bring its total to 3,150. In Iran, five members of Parliament tested positive, showing how the virus is spreading among the country’s politicians. Tehran has reported over the past week that seven of its government officials, including one of its vice presidents, tested positive for the virus.
*This post has been updated with new information since it was first published.