COVID-19 may have begun spreading in the US earlier than reported, according to three new studies. While their dates vary from state to state, all three studies suggest that the virus struck the US weeks before the first official cases. 

COVID-19 Striking Early in LA

According to two of the studies, COVID-19 spread locally in Washington State in late January to early February. Meanwhile, the other research suggests that the virus hit Los Angeles last December.

The Los Angeles study appeared in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Experts looked at the electronic health records in the Los Angeles area. Next, they combed through the records for cough complaints. Their findings show that the number of cough complaints began to spike above the average from December 22. The number kept rising through February 2020. 

During those months, UCLA health facilities reported 200 outpatient cases with a cough. They also admitted 56 ER visits and 18 hospital admissions.  

COVID-19 in Early 2020

The other two studies collected samples from Washington State, where the US saw its first official COVID-19 case. Through their analysis, both studies suggest that the virus had hit Washington State in late January to early February.

One study said that travelers brought COVID-19 into the state during that period. Moreover, the outbreaks in late February and March may have begun from these infected travelers.  

US COVID-19 Cases

Both studies suggest that the US official case numbers don’t tell the whole story. By now, the US has reported over 6 million cases and more than 190,000 deaths. Cases have sprung up across the US since late February. However, the states took weeks to confirm the spread because of a lack of testing capacity.

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