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Washington state coronavirus outbreak ‘a mystery so far’

The coronavirus has now spread to more than 60 countries and more confirmed cases are being reported in the United States. Washington on Saturday reported the first U.S. death from the virus as new cases continue to emerge in the state. Los Angeles Times Seattle Bureau Chief Richard Read joins Hari Sreenivasan for more on the state's outbreak.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For more on the Washington state outbreak, Los Angeles Times Seattle bureau chief Richard Reed joins us now. What's the latest there? Any new cases that are reported?

  • Richard Read:

    Yes, today there are two more people, men in their 60's who are in critical condition here after contracting the virus.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And is this related to the facility, the long term care facility that we were talking about or interested in yesterday?

  • Richard Read:

    I don't believe it is, and that's part of what's concerning officials, we haven't gotten a lot of details about these two men, but the person who died, a man in his 50s, had underlying health conditions and he was apparently not connected to this nursing facility where they're having an outbreak.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So how do we, if it's not somebody that is connected to that facility, does that mean that he got it from somebody else, somewhere else?

  • Richard Read:

    The strange thing about him, it's a mystery. So far, you know, they know that he wasn't traveling and there's no known contact that he had with a coronavirus patient. So that's what's concerning the authorities. He ended up dying at a hospital in Kirkland, which is the same hospital that one of the nursing home patients was sent to. And apparently they had never crossed paths before.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Are the people in that nursing home being tested, or what were the results if they were so concerned about that spot?

  • Richard Read:

    Yes, they're about 50 residents and staff there who have respiratory symptoms. And so the CDC is sending a team of 10 to investigate and to take over the organizing, the testing. For some reason, they're not testing them at the facility. So from what we're told, they have to bring them out to a local hospital for tests and then back there again.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And you went there earlier today. What was the scene like?

  • Richard Read:

    I spoke to some of the neighbors. They're anxious, as you might expect. And they're trying to take precautions. They've disinfected their own homes. They're, a couple of them were heading out to a grocery store to get supplies in case they're told to stay inside. So it's it's a developing situation around that neighborhood.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Are there a lot of people in the Seattle area that are heading to grocery stores and trying to stock up now?

  • Richard Read:

    Yes, I would say there are. I mean, when you walk around the downtown here, you don't see people in masks or it looks pretty much the same. But if you go to Costco, there are lines out front of the store. People running in to get things. Some of their grocery store aisles, the aisles with the water or the medical supplies are getting very bare.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And finally, I want to ask also about that teenager. How did he get it?

  • Richard Read:

    The high school student. Again, that's a mystery. He got tested when he had respiratory symptoms and he was waiting for the test results and was feeling better. So on Friday, he went to school briefly. And then Friday night, it came back positive. And so now that school is being disinfected, it will be closed on Monday. The same with another school in Oregon.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Richard Reed, the Seattle bureau chief for the L.A. Times, joining us via Skype tonight. Thanks so much.

  • Richard Read:

    Happy to do it.

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