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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The first person known to have the novel coronavirus when they died was killed by a heart attack "due to COVID-19 infection," autopsy results obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle on Saturday show.

Why it matters: The patient, 57-year-old Patricia Dowd, from Santa Clara County, California, died on Feb. 6. The first known death from COVID-19 in the U.S. was previously declared on Feb. 29 to be a patient in Washington state.

  • Santa Clara County executive Jeff Smith said the origins of the case, along with two others in the county on Feb. 17 and March 6, were "believed to be within the community," suggesting transmission occurred much earlier than previously thought, according to the Mercury News.

What's new: Per the autopsy report, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was found in Dowd's heart, trachea, lungs and intestines and she reported "flu-like symptoms" in the days leading up to her death.

  • She had a mildly enlarged heart but no coronary heart disease nor clotting that would have triggered a heart attack, the autopsy states. Blood had collected in the sac around her heart, which led to pressure on the organ that caused it to rupture.

What they're saying: Santa Clara County Public Health announced in a statement last Tuesday the February deaths occurred at home "during a time when very limited testing was available only through the CDC."

  • "Testing criteria set by the CDC at the time restricted testing to only individuals with a known travel history and who sought medical care for specific symptoms," the statement added.
  • "As the Medical Examiner-Coroner continues to carefully investigate deaths throughout the county, we anticipate additional deaths from COVID-19 will be identified."

Of note: Clinicians are finding evidence that the virus not only affects the lungs, it also may be causing acute kidney disease, neurological malfunction, heart inflammation, blood clots, liver problems and intestinal damage, the Washington Post reported this month.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Kim Hart, author of Cities
Aug 3, 2020 - Technology

San Jose makes 11,000 WiFi hotspots available for students

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Monday announced a deal with AT&T to make 11,000 4G hotspots available to keep students and families connected when schools begin virtually this fall.

Why it matters: Like other school districts, Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley will stick with remote learning for the foreseeable future as COVID-19 cases surge in California. Students without broadband access will not be able to keep up with all-online classes.

2 hours ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in England

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.