The first coronavirus deaths in the US happened weeks before previously thought


A member of the Los Angeles Fire Dept. seals a bag after taking a sample while conducting COVID-19 tests in the Skid Row district on Monday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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 Two coronavirus-related deaths confirmed in Northern California’s Santa Clara County from early February are the earliest known deaths from the virus in the US.
The deaths were from February 6 and February 17 — up to three weeks before the first known US death in Kirkland, Washington, on February 29.

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner performed autopsies on two individuals who died in their residences in February and sent samples to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the county said in a news release.

A third death in early March was also confirmed to be virus-related, the release said.

At the time of the deaths, the news release says, testing for the virus was very limited and only available 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,” the release says.

The results, which came back from the CDC on Tuesday, confirmed both tissue samples tested positive for the virus.

Further details on the victims were not provided.

The release states that as more deaths in the county are investigated, it’s likely there will be more that are tied to the virus.

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