- Associated Press - Monday, March 9, 2020

SEATTLE (AP) - King County public health officials on Monday reported three new deaths from coronavirus and 33 new cases while Grant County in central Washington announced the first death from the disease outside the Seattle area.

The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in Washington is now at least 22.

Health officials report more than 160 cases. Public Health - Seattle & King County said in a statement that two women, one in her 90s and another in her 70s, died Sunday. Another woman in her 80s died March 4 but her death was reported Monday. All three were residents of a Seattle-area nursing home that has been racked by COVID-19. Authorities say 19 of the deaths in Washington are associated with the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington.

Life Care Center spokesman Tim Killian said Monday that 31 residents still in the facility have tested positive for the virus. Besides the 31 positives, Killian said three tests were inconclusive and one was negative. Tests have been performed on some 20 remaining residents and results are pending. Killian said residents who have tested positive will be treated at the Life Care Center, and those who test negative will be moved to a different area of the facility.

Before the outbreak there were 120 residents at Life Care. Now, there are fewer than 60.



In a statement Saturday, Life Care said 70 of its 180 employees have shown COVID-19 symptoms and are no longer working.

Over the weekend a team of 30 medical professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service began arriving at Life Care to relieve exhausted - and ill - staff.

Also Monday major Seattle businesses, including Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks and Alaska Airlines, said they are chipping in to help those hit hardest economically by the new coronavirus. The companies joined with the city of Seattle, King County and the Seattle Foundation to announce the creation of a new philanthropic fund.

On Monday evening, Boeing officials said in a statement that the company is providing its full support to an employee at its Everett facility who tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said the employee is in quarantine receiving treatment.

“As a precaution, we’ve asked all coworkers of the employee who were in close contact to remain home to self-quarantine and self-monitor, and we’ve conducted a thorough cleaning of the work areas and common spaces,” the statement said.

Just north of Seattle, the Snohomish School District said all of its schools would be closed on Tuesday after an employee in its transportation department tested positive for the new virus. Officials said the transportation facility would have to close for cleaning and that would impact the ability to transport students.

Seattle band Pearl Jam said Monday evening it was postponing the first leg of its North American 2020 tour because of the virus.

“We’ve worked hard with all our management and business associates to find other solutions or options but the levels of risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level,” the band said on Twitter.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

One of the new COVID-19 cases in the Seattle area was a first responder in Kirkland.

Thirty-one Kirkland firefighters and three police officers are in quarantine, while six have been released after completing their quarantine period without developing symptoms, officials said. Most are in isolation or quarantine at home.

First responders who developed symptoms have been tested and eight came back negative, but one recently tested positive for the disease, officials said in a release.

Health officials are trying to determine whether the first responder caught the virus due to contact with a patient or with the general public. Those who test negative must remain in quarantine for the full 14-day period, as recommended by Seattle and King County public health officials.

“We remain committed to supporting our firefighters in quarantine and isolation, as well as those on duty,” said Chief Joe Sanford. “This is a challenging time for all of our community members, including our first responders. I encourage everyone to exercise patience, kindness and understanding as we make are way through this event.”

Three firefighters involved in transporting a COVID-19 patient from a nursing center in Issaquah to a hospital are also in a self-quarantine, said Capt. Steve Johnson with Eastside Fire and Rescue.

None of those firefighters are showing symptoms, he said.

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This story has been to correct the number of COVID-19 deaths reported in Washington. It’s 22, not 23.

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AP reporters Gene Johnson and Lisa Baumann contributed from Seattle.

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