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First known US coronavirus-related death happened one year ago

The woman's death came about three weeks before health officials in the Seattle area announced what were believed then to be the first U.S. deaths from the virus.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

One year ago, 57-year-old Patricia Dowd died in California’s Santa Clara County. Autopsy results would later reveal that the woman, identified by family members as being from San Jose, had the coronavirus. 

Dowd had not traveled outside the country to a coronavirus outbreak area. Her death came about three weeks before health officials in the Seattle area announced what were believed then to be the first U.S. deaths from the virus.

According to CNN, Dowd lived and worked in the Bay Area in California as a manager for a semiconductor company. She was known to have exercised regularly and was careful with her diet and did not take any medications. 

Her older brother Rick Cabello was said, "she was an athlete in her high school days, she was always active." Cabello said her death was a shock to family members, CNN reported. 

According to the Los Angeles times, before Dowd was found dead on Feb. 6 of 2020 she "had flu-like symptoms for a few days, then appeared to recover." 

Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said of Dowd's case, along with other similar cases in the days before and after her death, “none of these cases had a significant travel history." Cody said, “we presume that each of them represent community transmission and that there was some significant level of virus circulating in our community in early February ... and who knows how much earlier.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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