Washington state, site of the nation’s first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus on Jan. 20, also became the first U.S. epicenter of the outbreak on Feb. 29 with the publicly announced death of a patient at a Kirkland hospital and an eruption of cases at a Kirkland nursing home.
The coronavirus has continued to spread across the state. Public health agencies agree that the number of confirmed cases greatly underrepresents the true number of people infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Most people experience only mild illness, a person can spread the virus even without showing symptoms, and testing is still not widely available.
Here’s what we know so far about the statewide spread of the virus and its global impacts.
Washington numbers are based on daily updates from the state Department of Health (DOH), which compiles local health-department data. Both deaths and recoveries are included in the number of total confirmed cases, but recoveries are not being tracked separately. Also, pinpointing the county location for each case can take awhile. Cases are assigned to a county by the labs that conduct the tests, but may not match the jurisdiction designation by the county or DOH until the discrepancy is resolved. These cases are labeled “unassigned” until officials have further information.
The outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, in early December was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. Confirmed cases have reached millions, and deaths are climbing. Global numbers lag by a day since they are based on multiple data sources compiled by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) and may differ from the Washington State Department of Health numbers.