SHORELINE — Two new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Washington, in a King County woman and a Snohomish County teenager, state and local officials said Friday night.
The woman had recently been to South Korea, a country affected by the outbreak. But the Snohomish County patient, a high school student, did not recently travel to any countries affected by SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the novel coronavirus, said Snohomish Health District officer Dr. Chris Spitters.
“It’s concerning that this individual did not travel, since this individual acquired it in the community,” Washington state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy told reporters Friday at a news conference at the Department of Health Shoreline. “We really believe now that the risk is increasing.”
Both cases are considered “presumptive positive,” as test results were confirmed at the Shoreline site Friday, but are also being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. A case awaiting confirmation by the CDC was also reported Friday in Oregon.
The case in Oregon, two in California and the new Snohomish County case do not appear linked to travel to a country affected by the outbreak.
The Snohomish County student, who attends Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, became ill Monday with a fever, body aches and a headache, and visited two clinics in the county this week, Spitters said.
Because he was feeling better, he returned to school Friday morning, but after his tests came back positive, he went home before attending class.
Officials believe the student became infected through a respiratory pathogen, though they said it’s still early in the investigation. He is currently quarantined at home and is “doing well,” Spitters said.
A handful of students who came in close contact with the teen are being quarantined at home for 14 days.
In a letter to Everett Public Schools families Friday, school district officials announced they would close the high school Monday to conclude three days of “deep disinfecting.”
“This is a rapidly changing situation, but please be assured the health and safety of our students are of utmost importance and we will keep everyone informed,” the letter said.
The school’s closure prompted the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to announce late Friday night that WIAA regional basketball games scheduled to be played at Jackson High on Saturday will shift to Shorewood High School. All game times remain as originally scheduled.
The King County patient is a woman in her 50s, said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer at Public Health – Seattle & King County. She returned to Washington from South Korea on Feb. 23 and worked for one day before developing symptoms, Duchin said. Her husband then called county health officials to report her symptoms and travel history.
She did not interact with the public during her workday, Duchin said, and is recovering at home “without complications.” A workplace investigation is underway.
Her husband has not shown any symptoms. He is also under home quarantine.
“We have the ability to do more testing now, so we expect to see more cases, including community-acquired cases at some point,” Duchin said.
He emphasized that COVID-19 primarily causes relatively mild infections, and that 80% of infected people have uncomplicated illnesses and don’t require hospital care.
The 35-year-old Snohomish County man who was the United States’ first patient confirmed to have the virus is considered fully recovered. He had recently visited Wuhan, China, where the global outbreak began in December.
(Anika Varty / The Seattle Times)