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22 Apr, 2020 07:02

First Covid-19 deaths in US occurred WEEKS EARLIER than previously thought

First Covid-19 deaths in US occurred WEEKS EARLIER than previously thought

People in the US were dying of the novel coronavirus weeks before authorities officially reported the first death linked to the disease, new data published in Santa Clara County, California reveals.

Autopsies performed on two people who died at home on February 6 and February 17 show that their tissues were infected with Covid-19, Santa Clara health authorities said in a statement, adding that another previously unreported death associated with the coronavirus had occurred on March 6.

The first coronavirus-linked death in America was originally believed to have occurred on February 29. At that time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that a man in his 50s had died in Washington state. 

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The California cases were not previously associated with the epidemic as these victims died at a time when "only individuals with a known travel history and who sought medical care for specific symptoms" were being tested, the statement said.

The news suggests that the virus may have been circulating in the US earlier than previously thought. Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith said the fact that several people were apparently infected "right around the beginning of February and late January" – and that two of them had passed away – meant "the virus has been around for a while."

According to Mercury News, both of the fatal cases are believed to have originated in the community and were not associated with foreign travel. This also means that community transmission in America had started well before the first such case was officially reported on February 26.

The US has seen more than 800,000 confirmed coronavirus cases to date. More than 45,000 Americans died of Covid-19.

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