WABC reports researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai analyzed more than 5,000 plasma samples from patients at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Antibodies for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, were detected in samples from the week ending Feb. 23.
That’s at least a week earlier than New York’s first confirmed case of coronavirus on March 1. Antibodies also suggest the patients were infected at least two weeks earlier, meaning it’s possible the virus was spreading in early February or January.
NYC became America’s largest epicenter for the virus as the state saw more than 18,000 hospitalizations in April and a peak of 800 deaths in one day on April 14. As of Monday, New York has reported 24,855 deaths; Johns Hopkins University and The New York Times list the total as higher, including more than 6,000 deaths identified by public health officials as probable coronavirus patient
Coronavirus continues to rise in more than a dozen states, but New York state has slowed the spread dramatically. As of Tuesday, 891 are hospitalized statewide, the state’s infection rate is currently 0.85% and the positive test rate is 1.1%.
According to the study, published on medRxiv.org, patients were split into two groups: “Sentinels” who were hospitalized with suspected cases of coronavirus, and “screening” patients who came for non-coronavirus reasons such as OB/GYN appointments and surgeries. On Feb. 23, about 1.4% of people in the sentinel group had antibodies, and 0.9% of those in the screening group also did.
ABC reports the new study has yet to undergo a formal review, but experts say the evidence backs up what many believed. Health officials in April said they analyzed tissues of two people who died in California and found they tested positive for the virus in early February, weeks before the nation’s first reported death from COVID-19 on Feb. 29 in Kirkland, Washington.