Was Your Cold in December Actually Coronavirus? The CDC Has the Answer

You may see your past symptoms in a whole new light.

Amid coronavirus, we're all examining every headache, fever, cough, or sniffle is examined in a new light, knowing that COVID-19 could be the culprit. In fact, many of us are looking back on this past winter and wondering if we've already had the virus. In retrospect, could what you believed to have been a cold or the flu actually been the novel coronavirus? Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the answer about that so-called "cold" you had in December.

If you're looking back on symptoms that you experienced during the early months of this past winter, you can pretty much rule out coronavirus. In a report released on Friday, the CDC provided a timeline of earliest known cases in the U.S., explaining that the first coronavirus diagnosis unrelated to travel was confirmed in California on Feb. 26, 2020. That patient first fell ill on Feb. 13.

The CDC used "four separate lines of evidence," to determine that this likely points to "a single importation from China, followed by multiple importations from Europe" sometime in late January. So, even if your symptoms occurred during that time frame, there were very few cases at that stage. (The CDC believes that wider spread community transmission began in late February.)

So, there you have it: Your medical mystery is solved! That was likely not the coronavirus you experienced in December or January, despite your nasty fever and cough. Hey, it's all the more reason to stay vigilant going forward. And for more invaluable insights from the CDC, check out these 7 New Symptoms the CDC Says You Need to Look Out For in Your Kids.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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