New first reported coronavirus death in U.S. was ’seemingly healthy’ 57-year-old California woman

Pedestrians cross the street underneath a billboard instructing citizens to 'flatten the curve' of coronavirus transmissions in Los Angeles.
Pedestrians cross the street underneath a billboard instructing citizens to 'flatten the curve' of coronavirus transmissions in Los Angeles.(Chris Pizzello/AP)

Investigators are trying to figure out how 57-year-old Patricia Dowd, a “seemingly healthy” California woman whose Feb. 6 death was initially ruled a heart attack, contracted coronavirus and became the first known U.S. death, three weeks before anyone thought.
Dowd, a manager for a semiconductor company in San Jose, came down with “flu-like symptoms” in late January, but appeared to rebound, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Then her daughter found her dead at home.
Dowd’s brother-in-law, Jeff Macias, told the Times that she traveled abroad “multiple times a year to different global locations” and had a trip to China booked for later this year.
“She was living the life she deserved,” her brother, Rick Cabello, told the Times.
Dowd’s death was confirmed late Tuesday to have been related to coronavirus, which she had not been tested for until her autopsy. Two other Santa Clara County deaths, one on Feb. 17 and one on March 6, also tested positive for coronavirus.
“These three individuals died at home during a time when very limited testing was available only through the CDC,” the county’s health department said in a statement. “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.”

Her death shifts the U.S. outbreak timeline three weeks earlier than the previously first reported fatality in Kirkland, Wash., on Feb. 29.

Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Wednesday that all three newly reported deaths proves that coronavirus was in the area long before anyone knew.

“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," she said, according to the Times.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called on medical examiners to test for coronavirus in deaths dating back to December in order to better track the spread of the disease.

“We are doing the same across the state and other counties as well, to ultimately guide a deeper understanding of when this pandemic really started to impact Californians directly,” he said Wednesday during a press briefing.


  1. Let me guess she was hit by a truck and the "experts" are wondering how she died of coronavirus

  2. The big implication of these discoveries is that the virus may have arisen separately outside of China.

    These people had not been to China.

  3. She had some kind of contact with a Wuhan person who fled the city before the lockdown and fled to California..... Remember how many million fled that city? hmmmmmmm?


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