Earliest Known US COVID Deaths Revealed In California

Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as a makeshift morgue at Brooklyn Hospital Center on April 9, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
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April 22, 2020 8:00 a.m.

Public health officials in Santa Clara County, California, announced on Tuesday that two individuals had died from COVID-19 earlier than what was previously believed to be the first death of a COVID-19 patient.

According to the announcement, Santa Clara’s medical examiner-coroner discovered that the two people had died at home on February 6 and February 17, meaning the first death from the virus in the U.S. actually occurred weeks before the first announced death on February 29 in Washington state.

The county officials noted that the individuals had passed away “when very limited testing was available” by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had only tested people who went to medical facilities with “specific symptoms” and with “a known travel history.”

Therefore, the county’s medical examiner-coroner may find even more early deaths, according to the officials.

“As the Medical Examiner-Coroner continues to carefully investigate deaths throughout the county, we anticipate additional deaths from COVID-19 will be identified,” they said.

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