First US death from coronavirus confirmed in Washington state

Officials in Washington state on Saturday announced the first death in the United States from the coronavirus.

The person was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions, Washington State officials said. 

“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said in a statement.

“Our hearts go out to his family and friends. We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus,” he added.

“We are strengthening our preparedness and response efforts. I am committed to keeping Washingtonians healthy, safe and informed,” he continued.

The news came moments before President Trump was scheduled to hold a press conference at the White House to provide an update on the spreading virus. Washington state officials will speak to the press later in the afternoon as well.

The first death comes as officials have announced four cases with unknown origins, raising the possibility that the virus is spreading among the general public in some areas. That includes two cases in California, one in Oregon and one in Washington state.  

Experts have raised concerns that a lack of testing means that the virus could be circulating in some areas undetected. California announced on Friday that more test kits are now available in the state, expanding its ability to identify the virus. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Saturday that “the risk to the American public remains low.” He said officials expect more cases. 
Officials also said about 80 percent of cases appear to not require hospitalization, and the main risk is for older people or those with underlying health conditions. 
Updated at 2:30 p.m.
Tags Donald Trump Jay Inslee
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