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25 health care workers at Harborview are being monitored after COVID-19 death

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SEATTLE- Three new deaths were announced on Tuesday related to COVID-19. All of them happened in King County.

One of the three patients died at Harborview Medical Center last week before testing positive for COVID-19.

That means the first death in Washington state happened at Harborview within the city of Seattle.

The person who died at Harborview is a man in his 50s who came from Life Care in Kirkland, a nursing facility that has become the epicenter of the state's coronavirus outbreak.

Harborview says they believe no other patients were exposed to the person who died.

However, 25 health care workers could have been exposed. One of the workers has been quarantined and the others are being screened per CDC guidelines twice per day at work.

The man who died was transported to Harborview from Life Care on Feb. 24 and died on Feb. 26.

As the virus spreads across the country, CDC experts on Tuesday could not say with any certainty what the overall impact would be.

“There has been a lot of questions about what might happen to us, I wish I could give you that answer; unfortunately I cannot,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier said.

However, the CDC`s latest findings that transmission rates of COVID-19 may be low at least in the first batch of US cases is somewhat encouraging.

“We actually didn't find a lot of spread in close contact. I think that`s good news but it is a relatively small number of cases compared to the 80,000 cases around the world," Messonnier said.

The cases globally are climbing with more than 90,000 coronavirus cases now.

The vast majority of illnesses are still in China, and US health experts are closely watching the trends there. The CDC says although most of the symptoms have been mild, they say reports out of China show that 16 percent of the cases are showing serious outcomes.

They also say older people and ones with underlying conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung issues are twice as likely to develop serious outcomes.

More confirmed COVID-19 cases are expected in Washington state as testing ramps up. The CDC says by the end of the week 75,000 testing kits will be shipped to local health departments in the US. That is separate from commercial testing kits now regulated by the FDA to go out to clinics and hospitals.

Local and state leaders are also reacting in unprecedented ways.

King County released more information Tuesday on its purchase of a motel and creation of modular units to quarantine those who will contract COVID-19.

“This is for isolation and recovery so folks don`t need to be in a hospital, we need those hospital beds for treatment,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said.

Constantine’s office says there will be 18 modular units across the county.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Tuesday afternoon also issued a Proclamation of Civil Emergency which will allow the city to mobilize and react more quickly to issues that arise.

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