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With a second confirmed death of an American in the state of Washington from COVID-19, public health officials are concerned that there are far more cases of the new coronavirus in the U.S. than have yet been reported.

"If US cases more than double in the next week it’s not because the virus is moving any faster. It’s just because we’ll finally be catching up to it." Trevor Bedford, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, tweeted Monday.

Both U.S. deaths from the novel coronavirus were reported over the weekend in Washington state.

The second death, reported Sunday night, was a King County man in his 70s. The first, a King County man in his 50s, was announced Saturday. Both men had prior health conditions, officials said, making them more vulnerable to the disease.

Federal officials have confirmed 89 cases nationwide, including new cases in Oregon, Rhode Island, New York and Florida.

Kirkland, Washington, is a center of attention for COVID-19 response, as health officials fear the virus may have spread undetected in the state for weeks.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Saturday after the first death was reported. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also declared a public health emergency after the state's first two cases were reported.

Globally, about 85,000 cases have been reported.

COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

– The Center Square

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.

This article originally ran on thecentersquare.com.

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