Vice President Mike Pence has warned that more US coronavirus deaths could be imminent, after a 'medically high-risk' man in his 50s in Washington state became the first person in the US to die from the rapidly-spreading disease.
In a departure from President Trump's continued line that all is well, Pence admitted 'we could have more' fatalities among the American population, in a clip from Sunday's 'State of the Union' show released Saturday night.
His comments came as fears are mounting for 50 staff and residents at a nursing facility located just two miles from the deceased male after they have shown coronavirus symptoms, while Trump urged the public not to panic and two new cases – one in Illinois and another in Santa Clara, California – were confirmed Saturday night.
Australia also confirmed its first death from coronavirus on Saturday.
The 78-year-old male victim contracted the virus on board the doomed Diamond Princess cruise ship, where 44 American passengers also contracted the disease and were repatriated to the US.
Vice President Mike Pence admitted that more US coronavirus deaths could be imminent, as fears sweep America following news on Saturday that a 'medically high-risk' man in his 50s had become the first person in the US to die from the rapidly-spreading disease
In a departure from President Trump's continued line that all is well, Pence said 'we could have more' fatalities among the American population, in a clip from Sunday's 'State of the Union' show released Saturday night
'We know there will be more cases,' Pence told CNN's Jake Tapper in the interview clip.
When pressed by Tapper if this means there will be more deaths, Pence – who was this week handed the job of leading the US taskforce to tackle the disease – admitted: 'It is possible.'
He restated the president's point that healthy individuals will likely recover from the disease.
'The reality that Doctor Fauci (the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) and others explained to me since I took on these duties a few days ago is that for most people that contract the coronavirus they will recover,' he said.
'They will deal with a a respiratory illness, we'll get them treatment.'
However, he conceded that for Americans that have pre-existing health conditions, there could be 'sad news'.
'For people who have other conditions that would militate towards a worse outcome,' the Vice President said.
'We could have more sad news. But the American people should know the risk for the average American remains low.'
Pence's comments come as two further cases were confirmed late Saturday night, making the total number of Americans diagnosed with the virus 71 and counting
Pence's comments come as two further cases were confirmed late Saturday night, making the total number of Americans diagnosed with the virus 71 and counting.
The Santa Clara County Public Health Department confirmed its fourth case is an adult woman who lives with the woman who was confirmed to be a case on Friday and who sent shockwaves for becoming the US' second 'unknown origin' case.
The fourth case does not have symptoms and has not been hospitalized, officials said.
Officials in Illinois then confirmed the state's third case, which is being treated as another 'unknown origin' case.
Fears are now mounting for 50 staff and residents at a nursing facility in Washington state as they are now showing symptoms of the virus, after two individuals - a resident and an employee at the care home - have already been diagnosed with the infection.
Fifty-two staff and residents of the nursing facility where two new coronavirus cases have been confirmed are now showing symptoms of the disease, health officials said during a teleconference with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At the Life Care nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington state, around 27 of the 108 residents and 25 of the 180 staff have some symptoms, including some cases where individuals have contracted pneumonia.
The CDC and local health officials are reportedly sending an emergency response team to the Life Care facility on Sunday to try to control the escalating situation.
This comes as a 'medically high-risk' man in his 50s became the first person in the US to die from coronavirus overnight Friday near Seattle, Washington state.
Healthcare workers are pictured transporting a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland in Kirkland, Washington on Saturday
Healthcare workers transport a patient into an ambulance at Life Care Center on Saturday. The CDC and local health officials are reportedly sending an emergency response team to the Life Care facility on Sunday to try to control the escalating situation
More than 50 staff and residents of the Life Care nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington, where two new coronavirus cases have been confirmed, are now also showing symptoms of the disease
The first US coronavirus death happened overnight on Friday. The man in his 50s died in EvergreenHealth Medical Center, Kirkland (pictured Saturday)
The unnamed man died in a hospital just two miles from the nursing facility where concerns of a mass outbreak are mounting, but officials are maintaining the cases are unconnected.
President Trump sought to quell widespread panic in a press conference on Saturday where he expressed condolences to the family of the patient who died and told people to remain calm - before he made a gaffe by wrongly saying the deceased person was a woman.
The possible outbreak in the nursing facility comes as it emerged that two new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state are linked to the home.
At a Saturday press conference, Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Seattle and King County, confirmed that one of the confirmed cases was a woman in her 40s who works at the facility, who is in satisfactory condition.
Another was a female resident of Life Care in her 70s, who is in serious condition.
The first person to die of coronavirus in the US died in EvergreenHealth hospital just two miles from the Life Care nursing facility where concerns of a mass outbreak are mounting, but officials are maintaining the cases are unconnected
Neither had a recent history of travel, suggesting these are additional cases of community spread.
'We are very concerned about an outbreak in a setting where there are many older people, as we would be wherever people who are susceptible might be gathering,' said Duchin.
'We're going to send a team into the facility tomorrow to do an assessment.'
A team of CDC workers from Atlanta are on route to the facility in efforts to control the outbreak.
Duchin added that older adults and people with underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart or lung disease should be especially careful to protect themselves by washing their hands, not touching their faces, and avoiding contact with people who are sick.
The Life Care facility provides 24-hour care for residents, including physician and nurse coverage, many of whom have long-term and chronic conditions.
News of the potential outbreak in the facility is concerning given the higher danger of coronavirus being fatal to individuals who are less healthy or already have pre-existing conditions.
A spokesperson for Life Care told DailyMail.com that the facility was not accepting any visitors or new admissions, and was monitoring all residents and associates for the virus.
They said the restricted access had only been put in place earlier that morning, the same day the two cases were confirmed and outbreak fears emerged.
Officials confirmed the death at a press conference Saturday and said a lack of availability of tests and strict criteria for testing from the CDC had delayed identification of people with the virus
sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa