WA county with 31 coronavirus cases urges residents to work from home

Washington county with nine coronavirus deaths and 31 cases advises ALL its 2.2million residents to work from home and tells everyone over 60 to stay indoors – while state officials urge primary voters not to lick their ballots

  • Health officials in King County urged businesses to allow staff to telecommute for the next three weeks in an effort to curb the coronavirus outbreak
  • They also recommended that higher-risk groups – including people over 60 and who have underlying health issues – to stay home and away from big gatherings
  • Washington state has been at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, with 39 cases and 10 of the country’s 11 deaths 
  • Most of the state’s victims were patients at a nursing home in a Seattle suburb
  • Authorities launched a federal investigation into that facility on Wednesday 
  • State officials asked voters not to lick mail-in ballots for the March 10 primary 

Residents of a Washington county where 31 people have tested positive for coronavirus and nine people have died are being advised to work from home to avoid possible exposure to the killer strain. 

Public health officials in King County, which includes Seattle and is home to over 2.2 million people, have urged local businesses to allow employees to telecommute for the next three weeks in an effort to curb the COVID-19 outbreak. 

They are also recommending that higher-risk groups – including people over the age of 60, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems – stay home and away from large social gatherings.  

County health officer Jeffrey Duchin explained that the latest recommendations, announced Wednesday, were meant as a reminder for residents to remain cautious and said officials are not asking for people to completely put their lives on hold. 

He recognized the need to ‘keep our society functioning, our businesses functioning and schools functioning’ – noting that the county will not close schools unless there’s been a confirmed case within one.   

Residents of King County, Washington, where 31 people have tested positive for coronavirus and nine people have died, are being advised to work from home to avoid possible exposure to the killer strain. Two women wearing masks are seen leaving the Life Care Center in Kirkland, where the majority of the state’s coronavirus cases were reported

The US death toll rose to 11 on Wednesday with 151 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide

Washington state has been at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, with 39 cases and 10 of the country’s 11 deaths. 

Most of the state’s victims were patients at Life Care Center, a nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland that is now the subject of a federal investigation.  

Seema Verma, head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, on Wednesday said the agency is sending inspectors to Life Care along with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to figure out what happened and determine whether the nursing home followed guidelines for preventing infections. 

Last April, the state fined Life Care $67,000 over infection-control deficiencies following two flu outbreaks that affected 17 patients and staff. 

An unannounced follow-up inspection in June determined that Life Care had corrected the problems, Verma said. 

Health officials in North Carolina reported that a person from Wake County tested positive for the illness after visiting the nursing home. 

The patient’s flight from the Seattle area to the Raleigh-Durham airport raised fears other passengers were exposed to the virus.

‘My understanding is we have the manifest. Now the trick is to go find them,’ said Robert Redfield of the CDC.

Life Care Center said on its website that it is screening employees for symptoms before they start work and as they leave. 

The nursing home is prohibiting visits from residents’ family members.

Most of the Washington state victims were patients at Life Care Center (pictured). The nursing home is now the subject of a federal investigation

Medics are seen outside the Life Care Center on Wednesday

Meanwhile, public officials in Washington are facing increased pressure to take more aggressive steps against the outbreak, including closing schools and canceling large events. 

While the state and Seattle have declared emergencies, giving leaders broad powers to suspend activities, they have not issued any orders to do so.

‘We have encouraged people who are responsible for large gatherings to give consideration whether it really makes sense to carry those on right now,’ Gov Jay Inslee said. 

‘Right now, we are deferring to the judgment … of these organizations.’

While some individual schools and businesses have shut down, the governor said large-scale school closings have not been ordered because ‘there are so many ramifications for families and businesses,’ especially for health care workers who might not be able to go to work because of child care responsibilities.

The state health department issued a notice on Twitter asking residents not to lick their mail-in ballots  ahead of the primary on March 10.  

‘Whether healthy or sick, please don’t lick!’ the appeal stated. 

‘We have encouraged people who are responsible for large gatherings to give consideration whether it really makes sense to carry those on right now,’ Gov Jay Inslee said Wednesday

The state health department issued a notice on Twitter warning residents not to lick their mail-in ballots ahead of the primary on March 10

The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 11 on Wednesday with a patient succumbing in California – the first reported fatality outside Washington state. 

Officials in California’s Placer County, near Sacramento, said an elderly person who tested positive after returning from a San Francisco-to-Mexico cruise had died. The victim had underlying health problems, authorities said.

Shortly before the California death was announced, Princess Cruise Lines notified passengers of its Grand Princess that federal health officials are investigating a ‘small cluster’ of coronavirus cases connected to the ship’s mid-February voyage. 

It asked current passengers to stay in their cabins until were cleared by medical staff and said those who had been on the previous voyage should contact their doctor if they develop fever or other symptoms.

The Grand Princess is at sea off Mexico and will return early to San Francisco, where CDC and company officials will meet to determine the course of action, the cruise line said.

In Los Angeles, a contract medical worker who was conducting screenings at the city’s main airport has tested positive for the virus. 

The person wore protective equipment while on the job so it was unclear how the worker contracted the virus, Homeland Security officials said.

In New York, health officials put hundreds of residents in self-quarantine after members of two families in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle were diagnosed with the virus. 

Gov Andrew Cuomo said the disease appeared to have spread from a lawyer to his wife, two children, a neighbor and two others.

The new results brought the number of confirmed cases in the state to 11.    

There are more than 150 confirmed coronavirus cases across the US and more than 95,000 worldwide as of Wednesday evening. 

There are more than 150 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide as of Wednesday evening

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