California, Washington State Deaths Add to U.S. Coronavirus Toll

(Adds 4 additional cases confirmed in New York state for total of 10 in New York)

March 05, 2020

By Steve Gorman and Laila Kearney

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two more people have died of the new coronavirus in the United States, bringing the toll to 11 and new confirmed cases were reported on Wednesday around the two most populous cities: four near New York and six in Los Angeles.

The first California death from the virus was announced by health officials as an elderly adult with underlying health conditions. It was the first coronavirus fatality in the United States outside of Washington state, where 10 have died.

Placer County's public health department said in a statement that the patient tested presumptively positive on Tuesday at a California lab and was likely exposed between Feb. 11 and 21 on a Princess cruise ship to Mexico from San Francisco.

"Preliminary understanding from the contact investigation is that this patient had minimal community exposure between returning from the cruise and arriving at the hospital by ambulance on Feb. 27," the statement said.

The person was the second confirmed case of the respiratory disease called COVID-19 in Placer County in Northern California.

In the greater Seattle area, the total number of coronavirus cases climbed to 39 on Wednesday, including 10 deaths, up from 27 cases and nine deaths a day earlier, the Washington State Health Department announced.

The Seattle area has the largest concentration of coronavirus cases detected to date in the United States. Several cases were connected to a long-term care facility for the elderly in the Pacific Northwest state.

In New York state, the number of cases rose to 10 on Wednesday. Three family members and a neighbor of a lawyer who was previously identified as infected tested positive.

The neighbor's wife and three of his children have also contracted the virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

About 1,000 people in the New York City suburb of Westchester County, where the two families live, were under self-quarantine orders because of possible exposure, Cuomo said.

"We are, if anything, being overcautious." Cuomo said.

Los Angeles officials announced six new confirmed travel-related cases in Los Angeles County, including three people who had been to Northern Italy, one of the areas hardest hit in the global outbreak.

Of the six, only one has been hospitalized. The other five are recovering in home isolation.

Los Angeles County declared a local emergency and a public health emergency intended to expand and hasten preparedness efforts.

CLASSES CANCELED

On Tuesday, officials said a man in his 50s who lives in a New York City suburb and works at a Manhattan law firm tested positive for the virus, the second identified case in the state.

Health authorities said one of his children was a student at Yeshiva University, which canceled classes as a precautionary measure.

The infected New York lawyer had not traveled to countries with large numbers of cases. The outbreak began in China in December and is now present in nearly 80 countries and territories, killing more than 3,000 people. The first New York case, reported last week, was in a woman who had returned from Iran, where at least 92 people have died.

Governor Cuomo said about 300 students from New York's college systems, the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY), were being recalled from five hard-hit countries - China, Italy, Japan, Iran and South Korea - and would be flown on a chartered plane and then be quarantined for 14 days.

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