Americans were infected with COVID-19 far earlier than ‘first’ US case: CDC study
President Donald Trump, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (R), US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, holds a news conference on the COVID-19 outbreak. (AFP / Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first detected the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in a Washington state patient on January 20, 2020. But a new CDC study shows that Americans were likely infected with the novel coronavirus much earlier.

The CDC has now studied thousands of blood donations from the Red Cross taken between December 13 and January 17, and found the antibodies produced in response to the potentially deadly virus in more than 100 samples, CNN and the Wall Street Journal report.

"The 7,389 samples, collected from nine states, were tested for SARS-CoV-2 reactive antibodies. SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19," CNN reports. "Of the samples tested, at least 106 were found to have antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, including ones collected from California, Oregon and Washington from Dec. 13 through Dec. 16, 2019."

The Wall Street Journal notes this timeline suggests the virus was already present in the U.S. "a few weeks before it was officially identified in China and about a month earlier than public health authorities found the first U.S. case."

The CDC "also found 67 samples with antibodies in Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin or Iowa, and Connecticut or Rhode Island," meaning the virus antibodies were not just found on the West Coast.

U.S. Intelligence multiple times briefed the White House of the brewing "cataclysmic" pandemic in China as early as November.

This article has been updated to more clearly reflect the CDC study.