Currently, anitbody tests are being conducted to identify Americans that have had COVID-19 and not known it. Antibody tests may also create a better understanding as to if recovered patients have created an immunity to the virus and how long that immunity lasts. What antibody tests may not tell us is, how long the deadly virus has been spreading in America?

For many of us who believe that the novel coronavirus was in America before the first diagnosed case was announced in late January, the County of Santa Clara, California, Public Health Department has confirmed those beliefs.

According to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, “Three individuals who died at home in February and March were positive for SARS-CoV-2”. In all, three persons have been identified as dying due to being infected with COVID-19 before March 9, 2020 when the first death attributed to the disease was announced.,

How the Cases Were Found

The Santa Clara Medical Examiner-Coroner conducted two autopsies on persons who died in their homes on February 6, 2020 and February 17, 2020. Subsequently, tissue samples from the autopsies were sent to the CDC to be analyzed. On April 21, 2020 the medical examiner received results indicating that both patients died from COVID-19. An autopsy was performed on a third patient that died in their home on March 6, 2020. Results were also positive that the third person died of COVID-19 as well.

Community Spread Before it was Known

COVID-19 being in America before the first diagnosed case is not the only thing the autopsies show. They also show that community spread was active before the CDC announced such a possibility because, neither of the three victims had any travel history. Until the possibility of community spread was announced, in America it was thought that one would have to travel to China, Wuhan in particular, or come in contact with an infected person in order to catch the disease.

At the time the three individuals became infected and subsequently died, only CDC testing was available and only to those with a travel history that were showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The Medical Examiner-Coroner will be investigating “deaths throughout the county”, and the expectation is that more people will be identified as having died from the novel coronavirus prior to the known outbreak in America. Hopefully more states and counties will be conducting autopsies and tests to gain full insight as to how long this disease has been in America. Although it may change some commonly held beliefs as to the origins of the disease and how long it has been within our borders, it is information that scientists need in order to beat the “invisible enemy”.

James Cheef