A robot helps treat the Snohomish County man in his 30s with coronavirus who since Monday has been in an isolated room at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Not shown is the robot’s stethoscope and microphone so the patient can talk with the doctor, who stays out of the room. (Providence Regional Medical Center)

A robot helps treat the Snohomish County man in his 30s with coronavirus who since Monday has been in an isolated room at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Not shown is the robot’s stethoscope and microphone so the patient can talk with the doctor, who stays out of the room. (Providence Regional Medical Center)

Robot doc treats local coronavirus patient; 5 cases in U.S.

The number of people in Washington possibly exposed to the patient rose to 69, health district says.

UPDATE, 1:30 p.m. Sunday: Three new cases of coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States, bringing the total to five in four states. All of the patients had traveled to Wuhan.

UPDATE, 3 p.m. Saturday: Health officials are now monitoring 69 people who were in close contact with the Snohomish County man, the first in the U.S. diagnosed with coronavirus.

EVERETT — Five people in the United States have been confirmed to have the Wuhan coronavirus. Two in California and one in Arizona were diagnosed this weekend, with another in Chicago on Friday.

The first person, a man in his 30s, was hospitalized Monday in Everett, where he’s being treated by a robot with a stethoscope and microphone that allows him to speak remotely with the doctor.

He remained in satisfactory condition Friday.

More possible cases are being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the only lab site in the U.S. where testing for the virus is done.

The deadly new virus has infected hundreds in China, where the death toll climbed to 41 Friday. The mysterious illness has spread to other countries, including three new cases in France. China has locked down more than 36 million people to try to contain the outbreak and rushed to build a prefabricated, 1,000-bed hospital.

Since Monday, the Snohomish County man in his 30s has been in an isolated room at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

“Our team is definitely keeping an eye on what’s happening in Chicago and internationally, but right now we’re all hands on deck here with this case,” said Heather Thomas, spokeswoman for the Snohomish Health District.

A protective gurney was used to transport the Snohomish County man in his 30s with coronavirus to an isolated room at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Providence Regional Medical Center)

A protective gurney was used to transport the Snohomish County man in his 30s with coronavirus to an isolated room at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Providence Regional Medical Center)

CDC specialists came to Washington to work closely with local and state Department of Health staff.

Health officials are monitoring the now 69 people who were in close contact with the man in the United States. He arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Jan. 15 after visiting family members in Wuhan, China. He took group transportation to his home, where he lives alone.

At risk are those within six feet of an infected person and especially those who have been exposed to that person’s coughing or infected droplets.

The man started having symptoms Jan. 16, according to a timeline on the district’s website. It does not say his whereabouts from then until Sunday, when he went to a health clinic, which wasn’t named.

After blood was drawn for testing, the clinic notified public health officials. The man was told to remain home in isolation. A blood sample was flown to the CDC in Atlanta that evening.

The test confirmed coronavirus on Monday. He was transported in a protective gurney to a special isolated room at Providence that is away from other units and has a separate air filter. It was set up about five years ago during the Ebola crisis. This is the first time it was used in a real-life scenario.

A hospital spokesman said nurses and other caregivers volunteer to be part of the Biocontainment Evaluation Specialty Team. Those in contact suit up accordingly.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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