California confirms February 6 coronavirus death - may be first USA death

Grant Boone
April 23, 2020

Two people who died in California in early and mid-February were confirmed as coronavirus cases - weeks before the first reported Covid-19 fatality in the United States, it emerged on Wednesday.

Santa Clara County officials said Tuesday the people died at home February 6 and February 17. The other two deaths took place on February 17 and March 6.

Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health for Seattle and King County speaks following the death of a a King County, Washington resident due to COVID-19 on February 29, marking the first death on United States soil.

The third victim died on March 6.

"These three individuals died at home during a time when very limited testing was available only through the CDC", the county's health department said as it announced the findings.

Dr Sara Cody, the county's chief medical officer, told the New York Times that the two victims did not have any known travel history that would have exposed them to the virus, suggesting that they contracted the disease in the community. Santa Clara County initially recorded its first death on March 9 - a woman in her 60s. "We anticipate additional deaths from COVID-19 will be identified" as the autopsies continue, the county said.

New autopsies reveal USA coronavirus spread began in January
The medical examiner sent samples from the autopsies to the CDC, which confirmed the positive results for coronavirus on Tuesday. Jeffrey Smith, the medical examiner-coroner and the county executive in Santa Clara, told The Washington Post .

All 50 states in the USA have now reported deaths due to coronavirus after Wyoming announced its first fatality earlier this month.

Both people died in their homes, and had their tissues tested for Coronavirus, as did another who died in early March (and also tested positive). The latest news from California indicates to officials that coronavirus was spreading in the community by early to mid-January, much earlier than thought.

"This will go to the obvious questions and queries that all of us are asking: When?"

Trump said during a Monday briefing that the U.S. has now tested more than 4 million people for the coronavirus, completing 150,000 tests a day.

Newsom said he wants the state to test at least 25,000 people a day by the end of April. The coronavirus was first confirmed to have entered the USA on January 21. That is one of the six indicators he says is key to lifting a "stay-at-home" order that has slowed the spread of the disease while forcing millions of people to file for unemployment benefits. On Tuesday, Newsom announced intensive care hospitalisations rose 3.8 percent.

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