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Seattle urges people over 60 to stay home 'as much as possible' due to coronavirus

Seattle urges people over 60 to stay home 'as much as possible' due to coronavirus
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Officials from King County in Washington state are urging elderly people, pregnant women and others at higher risk from the coronavirus to stay home and avoid large gatherings as much as possible.

The response is meant to slow and mitigate the spread of the virus and represents a new phase of action in the United States to fight it. 

Public health officials in Seattle and King County said Wednesday that “people at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible.”

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People at higher risk are classified as people age 60 and older; people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes; people with weakened immune systems; and people who are pregnant. 

“We understand these actions will have a tremendous impact on the lives of people in our community,” the public health department for Seattle and King County said in a statement. “We are making these recommendations in consultation with [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] based on the best information we have currently to protect the public's health.”

Officials said the steps are not mandatory but are recommended to keep people safe. 

King County, which includes Seattle, has been at the center of coronavirus cases in the United States, including in a nursing home. There are now 31 cases in the county, and there have been nine deaths. 

Officials also urged employers to allow people to work from home when they can and said, “If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.”

Experts say about 80 percent of people who get the virus do not need hospitalization, but the people most at risk are elderly and with underlying health conditions.