SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner released the autopsy report for the South Bay woman who is believed to be the first person in the country to have died from COVID-19. 

Coronavirus is widely believed to be a mainly respiratory illness but the autopsy from a woman who died in Santa Clara County shows the virus had infected her heart. 

According to the autopsy report, 57-year-old Patricia Dowd died on February 6th.  

It also notes that she apparently had been suffering from flu-like symptoms in the days prior to her death.  She was slightly overweight, but otherwise healthy.

An examination of Dowd’s remains found that the left ventricle of her heart had ruptured and that she died of a heart attack. 

At the time of her passing, testing for COVID-19 was not yet widely available, but tissue samples were taken anyway, including a swab to test for viruses.

In April, those samples were sent to the CDC for testing. 

They discovered coronavirus in Dowd’s heart, throat, lungs and intestines.

The medical examiner now believes that Dowd’s heart was infected with the COVID-19 virus, causing inflammation and leading to the heart attack that killed her.

Dowd died on Feb. 6, which is the earliest known coronavirus death in the US, but it’s suspected the virus was spreading even earlier than that.  

Governor Newsom has asked health officials to take a second look at cases as far back as December to see if the virus was spreading then. 

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