According to Chinese officials, the first reported case of COVID-19 was diagnosed Dec. 1, 2019.
And according to U.S. officials, the first case of the coronavirus in the country was diagnosed Jan. 20, 2020.
But it’s going to turn out that the virus was here long before that — and is far more widespread than immunologists and physicians now think.
A new antibody study in New York City found that 1 in 5 (21.2%) of residents have already been infected with the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.
Let’s do a little math. There are 8.5 million people in New York City, according to this site. That means 1,802,000 residents in New York City have had the virus.
Another number: New York City has conducted 695,920 tests done in the entire state of New York, according Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. There are currently 263,460 total confirmed cases in the state, according to the New York Times.
But more than 1.8 million people already have antibodies to the virus. It’s not known yet if antibodies will prevent people from getting the virus again, but many physicians say that antibodies usually indicate immunity, at least for a period of time.
The study tested 3,000 New York residents across the state — at grocery and big-box stores — for antibodies that indicate someone has already had the virus. Statewide, the study found that 13.9% of residents had been infected. The highest rates of past infections occurred in and around New York City.
“What we found so far is that the statewide number is 13.9% tested positive for having the antibodies,” Cuomo said. “What does it mean? They were infected three weeks ago and four weeks ago and five weeks ago or six weeks ago,” Cuomo. said. “They have the virus and they developed the antibodies and they are recovered.”
“What you do in a place with 21% is very different,” he said. “The facts dictate the action.”
Does that mean the governor will soon reopen one of the world’s largest economies?
In another fascinating sign that the virus may have been in the U.S. far earlier, New autopsy results show two Californians died of COVID-19 in early and mid-February — up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus, CNN reported. “These deaths now stand as the country’s earliest two attributed to the coronavirus, a development that appears to shift the understanding of how early the virus was spreading in the country,” health experts told CNN Wednesday.