PHOENIX — At least 11 people infected with COVID-19 traveled to Arizona and passed the disease to others, starting local transmission chains that seeded the state’s earliest coronavirus outbreaks starting in mid-February, according to a newly published study.
Looking at genomes sequenced from virus samples collected in March and early April, researchers found that 80% of the studied genomes stemmed from those 11 people. They likely arrived through domestic travel but the genomes can ultimately be traced back to virus lineages that circulated heavily in Europe before they came to the United States, the researchers found.
Those are among the findings from the first paper published by the Arizona COVID-19 Genomics Union, organized early in the outbreak by researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute and Arizona’s three universities. Their peer-reviewed findings appear in the journal “mBio.”
They found that a person from Arizona State University, who was isolated in January with COVID-19 after traveling to the epicenter of the outbreak in China’s Hubei province, did not infect anybody else.