Person in Washington state first in US to die from new virus

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(AP) — Officials in Washington state say a person has died of COVID-19, the first such death in the United States.

The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family and is a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past. It can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

The outbreak began in China but has infected tens of thousands of people in more than three dozen countries, with the vast majority in mainland China.

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