George Floyd’s Positive Covid-19 Test Sadly Illustrates the ‘Pandemic Within a Pandemic’
How to make sense of the findings from his autopsy
The murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has sparked protests across the United States over the past week. The results of Floyd’s autopsy, released Wednesday by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office, controversially concluded that he died by heart failure. They differ significantly from the results of a private autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family that deemed he died by asphyxiation caused by the compression of his neck. The Hennepin County autopsy also revealed that Floyd tested positive for Covid-19.
Hennepin County’s top medical examiner, Dr. Andrew M. Baker, told the New York Times that the positive test was likely “a lasting positive result from his previous infection” in early April. There’s “no indication” that Covid-19 played a role in his death, and he was “likely asymptomatic” when he died.
Even though Covid-19 is not thought to have played a role in Floyd’s death, the revelation is still jarring. When Floyd was murdered, and still today, the United States was in the midst of a devastating Covid-19 pandemic — the Black community especially so. For the coronavirus crisis to intersect with one peak of the crisis of anti-Black racism that has wracked the United States for hundreds of years is, for many, too much to bear.
On Twitter, some people expressed their shock and grief, pointing out that Floyd survived one pandemic only to be killed by what activist Zellie Imani called the “police violence pandemic.” “He survived the coronavirus, but not the encounter with those four @MinneapolisPD officers,” tweeted Jamil Smith, a journalist for Rolling Stone.
One person raised concerns that Floyd’s positive test would incorrectly suggest he died from the coronavirus, not at the hands of police. Another who self-identified as a supporter of the president said “Well there we have it…the police didn’t kill #GeorgeFloyd, COVID19 Coronavirus pandemic killed him.”
It’s important to reiterate that George Floyd was not killed by the coronavirus — neither the Hennepin County autopsy nor the private autopsy suggests that is the case. The…