A National Institutes of Health-led review of more than 24,000 stored blood samples suggests that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was present in the U.S. as far back as December 2019. The samples were collected between January and mid-March 2020 and contributed by participants in NIH’s All of Us research program in all 50 states.

Two separate serology tests revealed SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a small number of patients from samples collected as early as Jan. 7 from patients in Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which suggests that the virus was present in the U.S. in late December. The study authors note that it is unknown whether participants who provided positive samples became infected through their travels or while in their own communities.

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