Health experts now believe COVID-19 has been circulating in the United States since December, after it was confirmed that two people in California died from the coronavirus weeks before the previously recorded earliest deaths.
Dr. Ashish K. Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CNN on Wednesday:
"That is a very significant finding ... It takes at least two to three weeks from the time you contract the virus and you die from it.
That means there was community spread happening in California as early as mid-January, if not earlier than that. We really need to now go back, look at a lot more cases from January — even December — and try to sort out when did we first really encounter this virus in the United States."
The L.A. Times also reported Wednesday that "Health officials suspect the virus has been circulating in the U.S. since December."
"Dr. Jeff Smith, a physician who is the chief executive of Santa Clara County government, said earlier this month that data collected by the CDC, local health departments and others suggest it was "a lot longer than we first believed" — most likely since 'back in December.' "