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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

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.

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.

1 hour ago - Health

Federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health workers

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities nationwide.

The big picture: The order comes one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.