In the wake of several deaths and a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said residents should consider avoiding large crowds and public gatherings.
“We think folks should begin to think about avoiding large events and assemblies,” said Inslee, a Democrat, in a March 2 press conference on the outbreak. At least six people in the United States have died from the mysterious new virus, and more than 100 cases have been confirmed.
Over the weekend, as the number of cases increased and Washington reported the first U.S. death from COVID-19, the state declared an emergency. On March 2, King County, where the bulk of the cases were found, declared an emergency of its own.
Inslee didn’t rule out the possibility of canceling large public gatherings, including sporting events and concerts, in the near future. Several schools in the state have announced closures as the virus spreads.
“We are not making a request formally right now for events to be canceled, but people should be prepared for that possibility, and need to be thinking about it,” the governor said.
“As this situation develops, what people are likely to see is local officials, county, health, and school districts responding to this. I also have emergency authority in this regard. We are not exercising it today. But people know that we need to start thinking in these terms.”
Several of the deaths have been linked to the Life Care Center nursing facility in Kirkland. About 50 people with symptoms among the residents and staff are being tested for COVID-19.
Officials said most of the patients who succumbed to the virus have been elderly or had underlying health problems. This sentiment has been echoed by officials in other states, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as federal officials.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists more than 90 cases across the United States on its website, with the bulk of the patients having been repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise liner that was quarantined in Japan last month. New York reported its second COVID-19 case on March 3, and Georgia reported two cases on March 2.
The virus is believed to have emerged in mainland China, where regime officials have implemented strict restrictions on travel, and numerous Chinese netizens and citizen journalists have accused officials of engaging in a censorship campaign.
Outside of China, Iran has reported 77 deaths and more than 2,000 cases, although reports have said the COVID-19 figures provided by the regime—like China’s—are understood to be significantly lower than the actual numbers.
On March 2, Italy also reported an uptick, now with 52 deaths and more than 2,000 cases.