Tracking COVID-19’s First Appearance in the United States

coronavirus

On April 21, 2020, Santa Clara County Public Health released this interesting information:

The fact that an individual who died at home on February 6, 2020 tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a rather fascinating turn of events given that, until this point, it was believed that the first American death from coronavirus was announced by Public Health – Seattle and King County on February 29, 2020 as shown here:

As well, while testing was not widely available in the United States at the time, according to the CDC, there were only 11 cases of COVID-19 reported in all of the United States on February 6, 2020.  The first American positive COVID-19 infection was reported to the CDC on January 22, 2020 as shown here:

According to the Santa Clara County Public Health press release, there were two individuals in California who died prior to the "first COVID-19-related death" in the State of Washington, the aforementioned death on February 6th and another death on February 17th.  Both individuals in California had no travel history to China or anywhere else that would have exposed them to the virus.  This means that there was likely community spread happening in California during mid-January 2020 since the time required between contact with the virus and infection is between two and three weeks, suggesting that the virus was more widely prevalent in the United States long before experts had originally concluded.  In case you've forgotten, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a "Public Health Emergency" on January 30, 2020 and a "pandemic" on March 19, 2020.  The first case of "pneumonia of an unknown cause" was declared by China on December 31, 2019.  

The probable appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the United States just two to three weeks later is a rather interesting development and suggests that the virus was present in America not substantially later than it made its appearance in China.  Further research is required to determine whether other deaths in the United States prior to the beginning of February 2020 are also test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

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