At least two people died in February from corona virus, California health officials said, meaning the virus could have spread in the US earlier than it was announced.
The two victims died on February 6 and February 17. The tissue samples taken during the autopsy of the two at home in Santa Clara County, California, USA, were positive for the virus, according to local health officials.
Initially, the first case of coronavirus in the US was thought to be on February 29, in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle, which quickly became a hot spot on the virus’s spread map. . They then backed down the landmark to February 26 when they found two deaths on that day in connection with Covid-19.
The new finding pushes the earliest time of Covid-19 deaths in the country for weeks and is likely to change the picture of the outbreak in the US.
“The discovery of COVID-19-related deaths from February is significant, because that means the virus has been around much longer than originally thought,” said Jeff Smith, MD. and Santa Clara county chief told the Washington Post.
“The virus seems to have been around for a while and maybe it has spread in the community quite a while.”
The virus may have been in the community for weeks
The source of the infection of the two victims remains unclear, but Sara Cody, a public health officer, told the Washington Post that this could be a case of infection from within the community.
“As far as I understand, there is no data about them traveling,” said Cody, a doctor. “A detailed investigation will be conducted to confirm this is a case of infection from the community.”
Due to the strict testing limits at the time, the link between these deaths and the virus so far is vague, Cody said. She also expressed gratitude to the “thoughtful, thoughtful medical examiners” who sent tissue samples from the two cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which contributed to the discovery. this important.
Both deaths in Santa Clara County occurred at the time the CDC ordered testing to be done only for people with respiratory problems who had traveled to China or had close contact with an infected person. previous illness. Sara Cody said local officials had to call CDC regularly to discuss case by case before the agency agreed to test.
“We felt very restless thinking we might have missed many cases because we didn’t get enough tests to confirm it,” Ms. Cody said. “This tells us that yes, we are sure. missed cases “.
In addition, having an earlier virus-related death could mean many people were misdiagnosed, Eric Topol, a geneticist and researcher at Scripps Research Institute, told the Washington Post. .
“How many of those people were diagnosed with the flu or pneumonia when they were actually infected with Covid-19?”, Topol said.
To date, Santa Clara County has recorded 88 corona virus-related deaths, including and 1,946 virus-positive cases. According to Cody, every critical or fatal case of Covid-19 “represents the apex of unpredictable icebergs”.
“Every time I see someone entering the ICU or someone dying, it’s like telling me that there are far more cases,” she said.
Continue social isolation or not?
The first case of infection in Santa Clara County, California was reported on February 28, the victim was Azar Ahrabi, 68, and the first person to die in the area when he died on September 9. / 3.
Two newly discovered deaths, along with another March 6 confirmed case-related virus, have shown that the virus has been lethal in this county, where the city is located. San Jose is like Silicon Valley a few days – if not weeks – before Ahrabi’s death. This means the virus may have been here since January, said Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University.
Disease patterns depend heavily on the onset of the outbreak. And when this milestone is redefined as an earlier time, models must be reviewed, increasing the expected number of positive cases at the present time, Bhattacharya said.
The California outbreak was first detected in early March, when the number of infections had reached double digits and the virus was thought to be concentrated primarily in the West Bank. By March 16, Santa Clara County, California, became one of the first counties in the US to require residents to stay home, which is considered one of the most stringent measures taken nationwide to take action. social isolation and minimizing cross-contamination in the community.
Prior to the new findings, Sara Cody said the order to demand that Santa Clara County residents be “definitely the right solution”.
“This is an annoying way, but it is an effective way to slow down the spread and if there is a significant level of virus spread in the community, social isolation is really the best and only tool you can get. yes, “said Mrs. Cody.
The county leader, Jeff Smith, also responded to Mrs. Cody’s views and said that these regulations should be maintained. This is a move that goes against many state governors’ response to Trump’s recent call to start opening states again, as well as lifting restrictions on a large number of businesses. .
“I sincerely and deeply hope that the message makes it very clear that we cannot take a break in isolation at this moment because we cannot test enough to know for sure which areas of the community and what whoever carries the virus, ”said Mr. Smith.
Elsewhere in the United States, there has been new evidence in recent months that suggests the possibility of disease outbreaks may occur earlier than previously thought.
A recent genetic analysis of samples suggests that the virus may have spread undetected for weeks in Washington state, where the first two virus deaths were in the United States.
Similarly, research from the Mount Sinai Health System in New York concluded that the virus had also spread in the city weeks before the state closure order was issued on March 22.
Ethan Weiss, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco, said he hopes to discover more related deaths in February or even sooner than two newly announced cases.
“It would be very shocking, based on what I know about travel between Wuhan and the bay area in California, if there were no virus infections here in mid-January,” Weiss told the Washington Post.
Mr. Weiss’s opinion is in the same direction as what Santa Clara county officials concluded on April 21 saying that the area of Covid-19-related deaths in the region would not be excluded in the region as it continues to grow. investigate.
“Looking back, although we found quite a few of our own, we had quite a few cases,” said Cody. “This shows a lot of things we don’t know yet.”