Washington state says coronavirus death toll rises to 6

Health officials in Washington state announced four additional deaths among coronavirus patients on Monday, bringing the total number of fatalities to six. Two of the patients were considered "new" cases of COVID-19, while a third death involved a patient who was previously confirmed to have the virus.

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Moments after King County health officials announced that the state's death toll had risen to five, another official said an additional death occurred in Snohomish County, bringing the tally to six.

The new cases bring the total number of confirmed COVID-19 instances in the state to 18, including eight of which have been linked to Life Care Center of Kirkland, which is currently experiencing an outbreak. Another hospitalized patient involves a man in his 50's with no known previous exposure.

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Several of the fatalities were described by King County health officials to involve patients older in age with underlying health issues. Two involved female patients who died on March 1, while another death which occurred on Sunday involved a male in his 70's with underlying health issues.

It was not immediately clear what the details surrounding the Snohomish County patient's death were, but all six fatalities occurred at Evergreen Health Medical Center.

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Officials cautioned that the number of cases is expected to rise in the coming days and that the risk to the public would be increasing. However, at this time, officials said there are no plans to cancel public events or close schools.

King County Executive Dow Constantine added that his office is in the process of purchasing a motel and setting up modular housing for patients who are in need of isolation, which he hopes will be prepared by the end of the week.

The virus has sickened more than 89,000 people worldwide, and while the majority of cases have occurred in mainland China, at least 66 other countries have reported illnesses.