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the coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus death toll reaches 2 in U.S., tops 3,000 worldwide, as virus keeps spreading

Washington State reported the second U.S. death from the COVID-19 coronavirus Sunday night, as the global death toll rose above 3,000 and several countries reported their first cases, including the Dominican Republic and Czech Republic. The vast majority of the world's 89,000 cases are is in China, but there are also large clusters in South Korea, Italy, and Iran. The U.S. has more than 80 known coronavirus cases, including the first cases reported in Florida, Rhode Island, and New York on Sunday.

Both fatalities in the Seattle area were men with underlying health conditions who were treated at the same hospital in Kirkland. The man in his 70s was one of four cases at the LIfeCare nursing facility in Kirkland, where 50 others are sick and being tested for the coronavirus. Twenty-five Kirkland fire fighters who responded to help at the facility are under quarantine.

Researchers from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said Sunday that according to their genomic research of Washington's first and most recent cases, the COVID-19 coronavirus has been spreading undetected in the state for at least six weeks. One of the researchers, Trevor Bedford, said he believes "we're facing an already substantial outbreak in Washington State that was not detected until now." Epidemiologists said that sounds plausible, given the apparently high rate of mild symptoms and people with no symptoms, plus the initial strict criteria for testing and paucity of testing kits.

Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar went on TV Sunday to urge calm and say the federal government is ramping up the production of testing kits. But Americans in areas with reported infections are stocking up on bottled water, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. And in France, the Louvre museum in Paris closed down Sunday amid coronavirus fears.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to wash hands frequently and self-quarantine if they have possible symptoms.