The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Chicago plans to review previous deaths involving heart attacks and pneumonia for indications of Covid-19 as far back as November, a spokesperson confirmed to CNN.
The first known coronavirus death in the Chicago area occurred March 16, but the medical examiner’s office now plans to review case records from much earlier deaths for signs of Covid-19, Cook County spokesperson Natalia Derevyanny tells CNN.
The medical examiner's office says viral pneumonia cases along with heart attacks caused by arteries being blocked will be examined.
“The goal is to see if this virus was present before we knew of it,” Derevyanny said.
The medical examiner's office expects this testing phase to last about a month but that timetable will ultimately depend on their caseload.
While Derevyanny called the decision to look back to November an arbitrary timeframe, if a positive case is discovered it will prompt the office to look back even further.
As of Monday, Cook County reported a total of 54,223 cases and 1,948 COVID-19-related deaths.