The first death in the United States of Covid-19 was announced Saturday by Washington state health officials. The development, first reported by the Associated Press, comes soon after four people on the West Coast were reported to have the virus who had no known travel history and no known contact with anyone who’d previously been diagnosed.

These cases took place in Northern California; in Snohomish County, north of Seattle; and outside of Portland, Oregon, and sparked concerns that the virus could be spreading furtively through communities in the Pacific Northwest, passing from person to person undetected because it doesn’t necessarily make individuals sick.

Health officials are now scrambling to identify more cases to try to stop further transmission. The California Department of Public Health, for instance, announced Friday that it would  “immediately receive an additional shipment of kits to test up to 1,200 people. This means California public health officials will get test results sooner, so that any patients will get the best care.”

Few details were provided about the death.

“CDC is aware of the situation in the state of Washington and we have been in close contact with local health officials,” said a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Republished with permission from STAT. This article originally appeared on February 29 2020

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