Latina was the first known U.S. citizen to die of COVID-19 in mid-February or roughly three weeks before the previously known U.S. death from the virus.

Previously First Known U.S. Citizen To Die From COVID-19

The first previously known U.S. citizen who died because of COVID-19 was a man from Washington State. The man was in his 50s and had underlying conditions, according to Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County Washington.

On March 1, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said that there was no evidence that the man had contracted from an infected person nor had traveled to a country with COVID-19 cases at that time. 

However, a recent report about a Latina from California who died three weeks before the man from Washington will change the theory as to when and how the virus started. 

The First U.S. Citizen to Die of COVID-19 Was a Latina

Patricia "Trish" Cabello Dowd, 57 years old, suddenly died on February 6 in her home in California. Her family believed that her death was due to a heart attack, but they were surprised because she was very healthy and had no pre-existing medical conditions.

The woman lived in Santa Clara in Northern California and had experienced flu-like symptoms. When she experienced it, she canceled some of her trips, but Dowd recovered enough to work from home. She even called one of her co-workers on the morning of Feb.6, and then she sadly died on the same day.

Since her death was suspicious, doctors saved her tissue samples and sent them to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. Days after, the result shows that the woman who suddenly died tested positive for the virus. 

According to a recently published article, "California's Santa Clara County had announced Tuesday that tissue samples confirmed two people who had died in early February tested positive for coronavirus - well before the United States' previously understood first coronavirus-related death on February 29 in Washington state."  

Moreover, her death will change the present assumption about how the virus began in the United States. Since Dowd did not have any travel history or had contacted a known infected person, this means that she got the virus from her community.

Early COVID-19 Infection in the United States

Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Chief Medical Officer, said "That Dowd's and the result of her test only shows that there had been community transmission of the virus before it was known in the country," She also added: "That indicates the virus was probably introduced and circulating far earlier than we had known."  

It was also supported by Dr. Ashish K. Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and she said: "Somebody who died on February 6, they probably contracted that virus early to mid-January. It takes at least two to three weeks from the time you contract the virus, and you die from it."

Moreover, since Dowd did not have any travel history from a place or a country with known COVID-19 cases at that time, that means to say that there is a big possibility that she got the virus from the community where she lives. 

This also means that health officials, local and the federal government have to look back, sort things out, and look for more COVID-19 related deaths from December 2019 to trace as to when the United States first encountered this virus. 

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