CDC chief says coronavirus cases may be 10 times higher than reported
Agency expands list of people at risk of severe illness, including pregnant women
Lena H. Sun and
June 25, 2020 at 4:05 p.m. CDT
The number of Americans who have been infected with the novel coronavirus is likely 10 times higher than the 2.3 million confirmed cases, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections," CDC Director Robert Redfield said Thursday on a call with reporters.
Using that methodology pushes the tally of U.S. cases to at least 23 million. Redfield said the larger estimate is based on blood samples collected from across the country that look for the presence of antibodies to the virus. For every confirmed case of covid-19, 10 more people had antibodies, he said.
Redfield and another top CDC official said that young people are driving the surge in cases in the South and West. They attributed that to the broader testing of people under 50. “In the past, I just don’t think we diagnosed these infections,” Redfield said.
He also estimated that 92 to 95 percent of the U.S. population is still susceptible to the virus.
Redfield noted that in April, however, more than 1 in 4 deaths in the United States was someone who died of complications related to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Now, that percentage is about 7 percent, he said. "We’re in a different situation today than we were in March and April where the virus was disproportionately being recognized in older adults,” he said.
Currently, the virus is affecting younger individuals, and fewer are hospitalized or dying. But he said he was “highly concerned” about “the complexity that we’re going to be facing in the fall” when both covid-19 and influenza are likely to be circulating.
“We’re not talking about a second wave right now, we’re still in the first wave,” he said. “That first wave is taking different shapes.”
Above all, he said, people should maintain social distancing, wash hands frequently and properly wear a face covering when they are unable to socially distance.
For the first time, agency officials also said pregnant women may face higher risks of severe illness from the virus than nonpregnant women, including needing treatment in intensive care units and respiratory help with ventilators. However, they do not face higher risk of dying. Officials said they are still researching the effects on newborns
In the CDC report on pregnancy and covid-19, researchers compared the impact of the disease on more than 8,000 pregnant women and 83,000 nonpregnant women during the period from Jan. 22 to June 7.
Pregnant women were over five times more likely to be hospitalized than nonpregnant women, 1.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive-care units, and 1.7 times more likely to require mechanical ventilation, the report said. There was no higher risk for death among the pregnant women.
The CDC report also found that black and Hispanic pregnant women appear to be disproportionately hit by covid-19.
LOTS more at the link.