A postmortem nasal swab of George Floyd showed he tested positive for the novel coronavirus before he died, according to Hennepin County’s new autopsy report released Wednesday.
The report said it found samples from Mr Floyd to be “positive for 2019-nCoV RNA,” another term for the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a deadly pneumonia-like infection that has affected over 6 million globally, the United States the most hit.
Local media CNN reported chief medical examiner Andrew Baker to have said the type of test performed for the autopsy, called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), can show a positive result “for weeks after the onset and resolution of clinical disease.”
“The autopsy result most likely reflects asymptomatic but persistent PCR positivity from previous infection,” Mr Baker was quoted saying.
He noted that there was no evidence the virus played a known role in Mr Floyd’s death, and being asymptomatic, he was unlikely to have been contagious.
Rather, a final state autopsy released Wednesday says Mr Floyd’s death was due to “cardiopulmonary arrest,” which is the stopping of his heart.
The report adds that while Mr Floyd’s neck was compressed by former officer Derek Chauvin’s knee for more than eight minutes, it does not conclude that it was the direct cause of his death.
Also, the report says, while Mr Floyd had a number of bruises and cuts on his head, face, mouth, shoulders, arms and legs, it found no evidence that any of those injuries directly would have killed him.
But a private autopsy launched by Mr Floyd’s family disagrees with the conclusion of the state’s result. It says Mr Floyd’s death was due to suffocation caused by the compression of his neck for minutes.
He “died from asphyxiation caused by sustained neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to his brain,” the independent report finds.