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George Floyd Tested Positive for COVID-19

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George Floyd, whose death in Minnesota police custody has stirred widespread anger across the United States and abroad, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a full-length autopsy report released by Wednesday night.

A postmortem nasal swab collected on May 26 was found to be “positive for 2019-nCoV RNA,” the report said, using another term for the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and is responsible for the global pandemic.

Floyd was known to be positive for the virus on April 3, and the type of viral testing performed for the autopsy, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), can show a positive result “for weeks after the onset and resolution of clinical disease,” according to Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who conducted the autopsy.

“The autopsy result most likely reflects asymptomatic but persistent PCR positivity from previous infection,” Baker said in the 20-page report. In other words, Floyd was unlikely to have been contagious at the time of his death, in which the virus had no known role.

Earlier this week, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office released preliminary findings in a one-page “press release report,” which did not include the coronavirus test. The cause of death — “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual restraint and neck compression” — remains the same.

However, early findings from an independent autopsy ordered by Floyd’s family show his death was a “homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.

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