A postmortem analysis on two people in Santa Clara, CA has revealed that the virus was in the United States earlier than previously thought. Two fatalities, one from February 6 and another from February 17 were not thought at the time to have been covid-19 related, but subsequent testing has found both of the deaths to have been caused by the disease. The official first death in the U.S. has been revised backward to February 6th.
A third death, one from March 6th, has also been attributed to the virus per the report by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s report.
The reason for the delayed testing has been explained as due to the CDC’s strict testing requirements in February:
“These three individuals died at home during a time when very limited testing was available only through the CDC. Testing criteria set by the CDC at the time restricted testing to only individuals with a known travel history and who sought medical care for specific symptoms. As the Medical Examiner-Coroner continues to carefully investigate deaths throughout the county, we anticipate additional deaths from COVID-19 will be identified. “
The deaths prove the existence of community spread in California prior to the previously reported death.
What they do not in any way prove is the existence of the virus in California during December, November or October of the prior year, although they will undoubtedly give the appearance of weight to the conspiracy theory promoted by Victor Davis Hanson and Rush Limbaugh, and subsequently seized upon by Californians of all political slants and affiliations. The reason these bodies were chosen for retroactive testing was that their deaths were in line with current understanding of the symptoms but they did not fall under the very restrictive testing limits originally put in place by the Trump Administration. They were, effectively, the same type of “probable” deaths which are now being added to death tolls in areas too overburdened to extend testing to the previously undiagnosed dead.
Had these people visited China, they would have fallen under the guidelines, so it is reasonable to assume they either did not do so. The deaths occurred in the Silicon Valley area, which at the time was seeing extensive travel to and from China by American businessmen. The current discovery indicates the virus may have been seeing occasional community transfer in the area prior to the official outbreak, and that people from Santa Clara or nearby counties who experienced symptoms – extreme fatigue, rapid onset of severe congestion – in February may, in fact, have been early sufferers of covid-19 and not simply victims of influenza.