SEATTLE, WA — During a press conference Friday night, Washington state health officials announced two patients had received “presumptive positive” test results for COVID-19, a new strain of coronavirus linked to China.
Health officials said the tests were performed at the Public Health Laboratory in Shoreline and are pending confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At Friday’s media briefing, the Snohomish Health District said one patient who tested positive for the virus is a Mill Creek high school student with no recent travel, nor an immediately apparent source for his illness. The teenager visited the Seattle Children’s North Clinic on Monday and was placed in quarantine at home, according to the state Department of Health.
Health officials said the teen is a student at Jackson High School and had not attended classes since before he exhibited symptoms. The school will be closed Monday to allow for a “deep cleaning.”
Everett Public Schools said the “few who were in contact” with the student will be tested, along with boy’s family members, on Saturday. The school district sent a letter to families Friday.
In King County, public health officials said a woman in her 50s tested positive after returning from travel in Daegu, South Korea. She went to work in the Seattle area on Tuesday and began to notice symptoms by the end of the workday. King County Public Health said the woman had a “mild illness” and was being monitored in isolation at home.
“While the King County case is believed to be travel-related, we don’t know how or where the new Snohomish County case was infected,” the Department of Health wrote in a news release. “We are working hard to find and identify how the patients were exposed, as well as tracing people who might have been exposed to this patient.”
King County Public Health confirmed a patient at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue was also being tested for the virus, but results were not yet available.
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Earlier Friday, the Oregon Health Authority announced the state’s first case of COVID-19, confirmed in an elementary school employee with no known recent travel history or close contacts.
The Seattle Times reports Washington began locally testing specimens for COVID-19 Friday morning. Health officials estimate they can get results approximately four times faster than waiting for them to return from the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.
“Now that we are able to expedite test results here at the Public Health Lab in Shoreline, we’re getting results on suspected local cases a lot faster,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer. “Given the extent of global spread, we expect to identify more individuals with COVID-19 in Washington. We want to emphasize the importance of practicing good health habits.”
The first known U.S. case of the virus was diagnosed in a Snohomish County man who returned from Wuhan, China in January. He has since been declared “fully recovered.” Until Friday, no other cases had been confirmed in Washington.
Earlier in the week, public health agencies said they were taking a proactive approach to prepare for the likelihood that the virus could soon become more widespread.
According to the CDC, at least 15 cases have been confirmed within the United States, with an additional 47 infections among people who returned to the U.S. via State Department-chartered flights. The latter number includes 44 people who were infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
From the CDC:
For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include:
CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses.
Learn more about the COVID-19 public health response in Washington and across the U.S.: