George Floyd tested positive for coronavirus in April, autopsy says

George Floyd, whose in-custody death in Minneapolis last week triggered an avalanche of protests over the mistreatment of black people by police, tested positive for coronavirus weeks before his death, an autopsy report released Wednesday shows.

The 20-page document released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office says that an April 3 test on Floyd was positive for the virus’ genetic code, or RNA.

Because that RNA can remain in someone’s body for weeks after the disease is gone, the autopsy says, a second positive test after his death likely meant that Floyd, 46, was asymptomatic from an earlier infection when he died May 25.

George Floyd.
George Floyd.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that a positive RNA test doesn't necessarily mean the virus is infectious. It wasn't immediately clear if Floyd developed symptoms earlier in the year or was an asymptomatic carrier.

A Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, faces second-degree murder and other charges after pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes while Floyd was lying on his stomach, handcuffed. Floyd was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

Derek Chauvin (Ramsey County Jail)
Derek Chauvin (Ramsey County Jail)

A bystander’s video of Floyd’s death sparked outrage across the United States and the immediate firing of Chauvin and three other officers who were involved in detaining him.

Charges of aiding and abetting against three other officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, were announced Wednesday.

The medical examiner’s office said earlier this week that Floyd’s death was a homicide that occurred while he was being restrained by police. His cause of death was listed as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression."

The medical examiner listed other "significant" conditions underlying his death, including hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.

Those conclusions were in contrast to an independent autopsy conducted by pathologists for Floyd’s family.

That autopsy concluded that he had no underlying medical problems that contributed to his death. The pathologists also said he died after blood and air flow was cut off to his brain, causing him to die by mechanical asphyxia.