KEY POINTS

  • Four more people in Washington state, all above 40 years-old, died from COVID-19 Monday
  • One person died Saturday and another Sunday
  • Experts believe COVID-19 has been spreading inside the state for the past six weeks or so

Washington state reported four more deaths from COVID-19 Monday, bringing to six the deaths from this highly-contagious disease since Saturday. All six deaths in the United States attributable to COVID-19 are in Washington. Five of the six deaths are in King County (where Seattle is located), which has become the state's infection hotspot. The other death is in Snohomish County, the third most populous county in the state. Washington has the highest person-to-person transmission rate in the U.S.

There are now around 100 COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S. Of this total, 18 are in Washington and 20 in California, which has had no deaths from the disease. Santa Clara County in California, however, reported two new cases of novel coronavirus, bringing its total number of coronavirus cases to nine as of Monday.

All the deceased in Washington are elderly Americans. The five that died in King County were two men in their 50s and 70s, and three women (one in her 70s and two in their 80s). The Snohomish County death was a man in his 40s.

"We expect the number of cases will continue to increase in the coming days and weeks, and we are taking this situation extremely seriously," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, chief health officer for Public Health-Seattle & King County (PHSKC), the public health department jointly managed by the City of Seattle and King County governments.

"The risk for all of us of becoming infected will be increasing. And although most of the cases will be mild or moderate, the infection can cause serious illness and there's a potential for many people to become ill at the same time."

Washington state is expanding its state-wide effort to mitigate the spread of the disease. King County Executive Dow Constantine said his office is on verge of buying a motel where quarantined patients can be treated.

"We have moved to a new stage in the fight to contain, mitigate and manage this outbreak," he said. "We continue to plan for all contingencies."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms the number of confirmed cases will rise because it's expanded and more vigorous testing will uncover more patients.

A genetic analysis suggests COVID-19 has been spreading undetected for about six weeks in Washington state. A team of scientists in Washington said the state's two deaths might be the tip of an iceberg. They surmise hundreds more people in King County might already have been exposed to the disease.

As of early Monday evening, confirmed global COVID-19 global cases reported by Johns Hopkins CSSE stands at 90,305 with 3,085 deaths. Of the total confirmed cases, 80,026 are in mainland China. The other most infected countries see 4,335 cases in South Korea, 2,036 in Italy and 1,501 in Iran.