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An Unenviable Week of Firsts in Seattle Under COVID-19

KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON - MARCH 12: A cleaning crew wearing protective clothing (PPE) to protect them from coronavirus prepares to enter the Life Care Center on March 12, 2020 in Kirkland, Washington. The nursing home in the Seattle suburbs has had the most deaths due to COVID-19 of anywhere in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

At The New Yorker, James Ross Gardner reflects on the past week of life and the first deaths in Seattle — the first city to feel the effects of Covid-19 in America. The city suffered the first death in the United States on Saturday, February 29th when a man in his 50s succumbed to the virus. As of now, Covid-19 has since taken the lives of 26 people in Seattle.

We stopped touching each other on a Wednesday. Or was it Tuesday? Information came at us so fast—confirmed cases, public-health warnings, deaths—you could swear the days of the week had transposed, their order jumbled like everything else. Certainly by Wednesday the handshakes stopped. Hugs weren’t far behind. Even among longtime friends and family. This would soon happen elsewhere in the country, to a degree, but here in the Seattle area, where by week’s end covid-19 would kill nearly twenty of us, evading physical contact carried extra urgency. Every avoidance felt like an act of heroism. You told yourself you were saving lives, and you were probably right.

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