The coronavirus was likely in the US before anyone knew it existed. It’s now hard to believe we ever assumed otherwise.
- The coronavirus may have reached the US by late December, mounting evidence suggests.
- Nearly 1 million passengers flew from mainland China to the US from November 17 to February 1.
- Because the US did not initially test widely for COVID-19, epidemiologists don’t know how far the virus spread in early 2020. Outbreaks in major cities quickly got out of hand.
- That head start allowed the virus to take root long before the CDC could detect it.
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On January 19, a 35-year-old man walked into an urgent care center in Snohomish County, Washington, with a cough and a fever. Four days earlier, he had returned from a trip to Wuhan, China.
A test revealed his diagnosis the next day: The US had its first case of COVID-19.