The deaths occurred in patients at a long-term nursing facility just outside Seattle, where workers are trying to manage an outbreak

Another four people in Washington state have died after contracting the new coronavirus, according to local health officials, bringing the U.S. death toll to six.

The first two deaths came over the weekend, and both occurred in adults with pre-existing health conditions living in Kirkland, a city just outside of Seattle. On Monday, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced in a press conference that there were four more deaths, The Washington Post reported, and he declared a state of emergency for the area.

Of the six deaths, four have been in patients from Life Care Center, a long-term nursing facility just outside of Seattle. All six patients died at EvergreenHealth, a hospital in Kirkland near the nursing facility.

The nursing facility is now being monitored for a further outbreak. Over 50 of the residents and staff have reported possible coronavirus symptoms, and are being tested.

Healthcare workers transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland
Staff at Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, transport a patient
| Credit: David Ryder/Getty

There are a total of 18 confirmed cases in Washington state — 14 in King County, which encompasses Seattle, and four in Snohomish County, just north of the city.

As of March 2, there are 88 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., 28 of which are due to community spread, meaning people with coronavirus are unknowingly exposing people in their areas to the disease. Experts believe more cases in the U.S. will be confirmed as disease testing becomes more widely available.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control urged Americans to start preparing for the virus to spread in the U.S. with the “expectation that this will be bad.”

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

The CDC also says that the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful handwashing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.