For over a year, it was believed that the first COVID-19 death in the country had been Patricia Dowd, a California woman who died from the virus on February 6, 2020.
But an investigation by the Bay Area News Group revealed that five January 2020 deaths had recently been listed as COVID-19-related- the earliest was Lovell Brown, from Leavenworth, Kansas, who died at the age of 78 on January 9, 2020, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Her identity didn’t become public due to patient privacy laws, and relatives of Brown were not alerted of the change on her death certificate.
Brown’s daughter, Peaches Foster, requested a copy of her mother’s amended death certificate after she was contacted by The Mercury News through the Funeral Home that handled Brown’s funeral services.
An intensive care doctor changed the cause of Brown’s death just three months ago, on May 12, from ‘acute stroke and chronic obtrusive lung disease’ to ‘COVID-19 Pneumonia,’ The Mercury News reported.
It is unknown why they did so a year after Brown’s death.
The identity of the first COVID-19 death was revealed to have been Lovell Brown, from Kansas. She died at Providence Hospital after experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms on Christmas 2019
Brown died at age 78 on January 9, 2020, but her cause of death had initially been listed as ‘acute stroke chronic obtrusive lung disease.’ It is not known why it was changed to ‘COVID-19 pneumonia’ three months ago, a year after Brown’s death
Foster tried to contact the doctor but was told he was busy treating COVID-19 patients.
She reportedly told her brother that she believed their mother could have died from COVID-19 in March 2020, as the country entered lockdown and cases spiked across the states.
Before her death, Brown experienced COVID-like symptoms including headaches, cough, fever and body aches.
The symptoms had started back in Christmas 2019, when she complained to family members that she couldn’t taste the food they had brought to her at the nursing home where she resided.
Brown had pre-existing conditions that could have potentially increased the severity of her symptoms.
She suffered from diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had suffered from lung cancer years ago.
The Center for Disease Control has recorded 5,450 COVID-19 deaths in the state of Kansas since the pandemic started
The US has recorded over 640,000 deaths since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic
The CDC has reported that there are currently over 39 million cases of COVID-19 in the US
Covid-19 cases and deaths have spiked during the summer, as the very infectious Delta variant became the most common in the US
She was initially taken to Saint John Hospital after she began having trouble to breathe, and was then transferred to the intensive care unit at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, where she died.
Ten months after Brown’s death, her sister and brother-in law perished from COVID too.
Although it is suspected that the disease was already in the US in December 2019, without a tissue or blood sample from Brown, who was cremated, it is impossible to confirm the cause of her death.
Sam Allred, a spokesperson for Providence Hospital, told The Mercury News that they would help Foster navigate the change on her mother’s death certificate, and the reason behind it happening a year later.
‘We’ll work with her to try to get any answers we can,’ he said.
The five amended COVID-19, January 2020 deaths in California, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Wisconsin and Kansas have altered the national perception of the events that unfolded in the initial stages of the pandemic, when the virus was novel and many patients were misdiagnosed, or stayed home and attributed the symptoms to a cold.
California has registered 5,450 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started, according to the Center for Disease Control.
There are currently 373,171 cases of COVID-19, and 12,810 hospitalization in the state, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.