OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state jumped from 39 to 70 on Thursday, including the first case in eastern Washington.
Eleven people in the state have died. The latest death was a woman in her 90s, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, according to Public Health - Seattle & King County.
Here is the latest information on novel coronavirus from the Washington Department of Health as of Thursday, March 5:
Copays waived for testing
Washington's Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler also issued an emergency order requiring insurance companies to waive copays and deductibles for anyone getting tested for COVID-19.
According to Kreidler:
Insurers also must:
- Allow a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
Suspend any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19.
- In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost.
The order is effective immediately and applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term limited duration medical plans until May 4, 2020.
More than 200 cases in US
By Thursday afternoon, there were at least 205 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States -- with 70 in Washington state alone -- according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local governments.
New guidance issued by the CDC on Wednesday formalized an earlier announcement by Vice President Mike Pence that any American with a doctor's order can be tested for the virus.
It removed earlier restrictions that limited testing for the virus to people who'd been hospitalized with a fever and respiratory symptoms -- or a person who had close contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.
Clinicians should now "use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with ... (coronavirus) and whether the patient should be tested," the CDC said.
Experts have questioned whether the United States can meet the likely surge in testing demand that will follow the change in guidelines.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said Thursday that he believes between CDC tests and those from a private company, IDT, there will be a nationwide capacity to test 475,000 people by the end of the week. Azar said he hopes IDT will ramp up to a million or a million and a half people by the end of next week.
He explained that the test involves testing multiple specimens from one person. For example, in order to test 400,000 people, the IDT test will process 1 million specimens.
Two kinds of coronavirus tests in the United States have FDA emergency use authorizations and are in use nationwide.
One kind is the CDC test kits that are distributed to public health laboratories across the country, and another test has been designed and used by New York state.
At least 205 coronavirus cases have been reported across 17 states, most of them in California and Washington states.
The number of cases includes 46 repatriated citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which docked in Japan last month after an outbreak and quarantine, as well as three Americans repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
CNN contributed to this story.