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2 Californians died of coronavirus weeks before previously known first U.S. death

Christian Fernsby |
New autopsy results show two Californians died of novel coronavirus in early and mid-February up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus.

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These deaths now stand as the country's earliest two attributed to the coronavirus, a development that appears to shift the understanding of how early the virus was spreading in the country, health experts told CNN Wednesday.

Northern California's Santa Clara County announced the autopsy results Tuesday. The two were a 57-year-old woman who died in her home in the county February 6, and a 69-year-old man who died at home in the same county on February 17, officials said.

The United States' previously understood first coronavirus death happened on February 29 in Kirkland, Washington.

The two in California had no "significant travel history" that would have exposed them to the virus, Dr. Sara Cody, the county's chief medical officer, told reporters Wednesday in San Jose.