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Seattle Waits Nervously After Six Coronavirus Deaths

Coronavirus
A coronavirus molecule

As coronavirus cases continue to spread in the Puget Sound and six deaths from the illness were reported, the virus has prompted some cautious measures from local businesses. 

Monday saw widespread school closures across the metro area. Amazon is banning all nonessential travel in the U.S. and internationally. Nike closed its Beaverton, Oregon, campus for a deep cleaning after a resident in its home county tested positive for the virus.

Dow Constantine, the executive of King County, told reporters Monday that the county was in talks to acquire a Seattle-area hotel to turn into a quarantine center. Additionally, Mayor Jenny Durkan is urging people to stay home from work if they are sick, but there is no city or county directive for businesses to have employees work remotely at this point. Travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will not see much disruption at this time. 

The nation’s first two COVID-19 deaths occurred in Kirkland, Washington, where two men succumbed to the virus over the weekend. Both men had underlying health conditions and one had not traveled outside of the U.S. Health officials believe he caught the virus through “community spread,” according to multiple media reports.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state. Fred Hutchinson researchers believe the virus has been circulating in the Seattle area since mid-January.

In Kirkland, a Seattle suburb near Bellevue, Washington, a long-term residential care facility is under quarantine with two positive cases and 50 people who have similar symptoms but have yet to test positive. A Kirkland fire station was also closed because personnel responding to the care center may have been exposed while transporting those patients to the hospital, according to several media reports.

A recently released study shows about 8% of the Seattle workforce already work remotely. King County, where Seattle is located, issued a planning guide for businesses during a coronavirus pandemic, which urges companies to create a plan to protect employees while keeping operations running. 

3/1/2020, 9:40 P.M.: THIS STORY WAS UPDATED TO REFLECT NEW CONFIRMED CASES SUNDAY EVENING.