Autopsy reveals George Floyd tested positive for COVID-19

The official autopsy report on George Floyd was released on Wednesday — and according to NBC News, it showed that the 46-year-old black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes tested positive for the coronavirus at the time of his death, although he had no symptoms or lung damage. 

The 20-page Hennepin County medical examiner’s report said that records showed Floyd had tested positive for the virus’ genetic code, or RNA, on April 3, meaning, according to NBC, that Floyd’s posthumous positive test meant he was likely “asymptomatic from an earlier infection.”

RNA from COVID-19 can remain in someone’s body for weeks after the disease is gone, the medical examiner’s report said.

The cause of death

The medical examiner’s report also pointed to fentanyl and methamphetamine found in Floyd’s system at the time of his death, as Fox News reported, and he was also said to have suffered from “hypertensive heart disease,” according to NBC.

Qualifying the results of the official autopsy, the report did indicate that additional testing was necessary to confirm the presence of the intoxicants in Floyd’s system, and also said that such substances could remain in the system for a period of time, Fox noted.

Ultimately, Floyd’s death was officially ruled a homicide, and the cause of death, according to NBC, was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression” — in other words, underlying health conditions that were exacerbated by the excessive pressure put on Floyd’s neck during his arrest.

A second opinion

Unsatisfied by the coroner’s findings, Floyd’s family decided to have their own independent autopsy conducted as a second opinion. According to Fox, that autopsy found a different cause of death: asphyxiation from back and neck compression that stopped blood from flowing to his brain.

According to Fox, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) used information from the independent autopsy to upgrade the charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck, from third-degree to second-degree murder.

Chauvin is also facing a manslaughter charge, according to ABC News, while three other officers who failed to help Floyd when he said he couldn’t breathe and then became unresponsive were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

A look forward

A combination of charges against the officers involved in the Floyd incident and the increased deployment of National Guard troops has been credited with decreasing violence as protests over Floyd’s have continued nationwide. President Donald Trump has said that he might deploy active-duty military to get rioting under control if it continues, as Yahoo News reports.

Meanwhile, some have expressed concern that the often-large protests will lead to a resurgence of COVID-19. The coronavirus has already killed over 100,000 Americans and infected more than 1.8 million others, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that these can become breeding grounds for this virus,” Harvard epidemiology professor Dr. Michael Mina said Monday, according to USA Today. “I would not be surprised to see in the next couple of weeks that we see increases that may be linked to protests.”

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