NEW DETAILS: 9 people have died from coronavirus in Washington

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Confirmed cases in state top 25, according to King County officials

The death toll from coronavirus in the United States climbed to nine Tuesday.

All of the deaths have occurred in Washington state, and most were residents of a nursing home in suburban Seattle, according to The Associated Press.

The number of infections in the U.S. overall climbed above 100 and are scattered across at least 15 states, with 27 cases in Washington.

“What is happening now in the United States may be the beginning of what is happening abroad,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the AP.

Older and sicker people are about twice as likely to become seriously ill as those who are younger and healthier, the AP reported. Most cases have been mild.

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Eight of the deaths are from King County, and one is from Snohomish County, according to several media reports.

In the case of the seventh death in Washington state, which was reported earlier Tuesday, the infection was not identified until well after the person’s death, according to The New York Times.

The seventh death reportedly was six days ago at Harborview Medical Center, according to correspondent Mike Baker.

Seattle-area officials told the media Monday that six people had died from COVID-19 in Washington state.

Washington state, home of the nation’s first confirmed infection, is up to more than 25 confirmed cases, including the nation’s first two deaths from the virus last weekend, according to King County officials. All of the previous deaths were reported at Evergreen Health.

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In a news conference Monday, Washington state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy confirmed that 14 of the 18 cases originated in King County, in the Seattle area. “Unfortunately, we are starting to find more COVID-19 cases here in Washington that appear to be acquired locally here in Washington,” Lofy told reporters at a news conference. “We now know that the virus is actively spreading in some communities.” She said Washington state has 18 cases, 14 of which are in King County where the nursing facility is located and four in Snohomish County.

The number of deaths in the state was originally announced as five until Dr. Ettore Palazzo, the chief medical and quality officer at Evergreen, had to interrupt the news conference to tell Lofy that number had changed to six, with the last death happening in Snohomish.

“So six should be the correct number,” Lofy said in the news conference. “We were, at the department, aware of the five deaths from King County. We had not received the report about the Snohomish County patient just yet ... apologize for that.”

Local officials told the media that 50 residents and employees of a nursing care facility were being tested for the new coronavirus after several people there tested positive, according to a CNBC report.

The coronavirus may have been circulating for weeks undetected in Washington state, a preliminary finding that could mean hundreds of undiagnosed cases, researchers said Sunday after analyzing the genetic sequences of viruses from two people.

Lofy said the state would begin testing as many as 200 specimens per day beginning either Monday or Tuesday to detect any additional COVID-19 cases.

“At this time we have not detected COVID-19 cases outside of King and Snohomish counties, but given the movement of people around our state it is possible the virus is spreading in other counties, too,” Lofy said. The state’s public health laboratory has the capacity to test about 200 specimens a day, and the University of Washington will start testing for COVID-19 Monday or Tuesday, she said.

King County will purchase a motel to house patients in isolation and setting up modular units to do the same, County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news conference Monday.

According to the Seattle Times, the patients will have essentials in the space that would compare to those available to what one might keep around for an earthquake, People should have essentials in the house similar to what one might keep around in case of an earthquake.

Public Health Director Patty Hayes asked the public to stop buying masks and leave them for health care workers on the front line of the crisis.

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