SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Health officials in Santa Clara County have revealed that two people died from coronavirus in early to mid February, which would make those the earliest known deaths from coronavirus in the country.
The first known death was originally in Washington state on February 29.
Officials say they discovered a third person died on March 6, making it three people who died earlier in Santa Clara County.
The victims are described as a 57-year-old woman who died on February 6, a 69-year-old man who died on February 17, and a 70-year-old man who died on March 6.
The health department also says they don’t believe that any of these people contracted the virus from traveling and this most likely was a case of community spread.
The health director talked on Wednesday saying that this really could be an indication that the virus was widespread much earlier than originally believed.
“They are really like iceberg tips, so they are indicators. When you have an outcome like death or ICU, that means that there are some iceberg cases of unknown size that underlie those iceberg tips. So with three of them that tells us that there must have been, you know, somewhat significant degree of community transmission. It was really difficult. Remember, we had a robust flu season so it would have been difficult to pick out what was influenza and what was COVID-19,” Dr. Sara Cody said.
As to why it took so long to get it confirmed that these people died from coronavirus, the health officer says they didn’t have testing in place at the time and now they do.
The coroner’s office had kept these cases open because they were suspicious that something could be happening with coronavirus.
They sent the samples off to the CDC and they came back positive.
Now, the health officer also says that they are still looking into figuring out exactly when coronavirus started spreading here locally, and that’s a tough question to answer and it’s something they’re going to have to keep working on.
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