As many as 20 million Americans may have contracted the CCP virus, a figure nearly 10 higher than the more than 2.4 million cases that have been confirmed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday.
In a briefing with reporters Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said surveys of blood samples taken nationwide, some by the CDC and others from blood donations and other sources, suggest that millions of Americans may have contracted the virus either without knowing it or by being asymptomatic carriers.
For every one confirmed case, Redfield said, the CDC estimates that 10 more people have been infected, and noted that the virus causes a lot of asymptomatic infection.
“It’s clear that many individuals in this nation are still susceptible,” Redfield, said. “Our best estimate right now is that for every case that was reported, there actually are 10 more infections.”
More than 2.4 million Americans have tested positive for the CCP virus, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, which is tracking the pandemic.
Previously, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the nation’s infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, have said as many as 25 percent of infected people might not have symptoms.
Also on Thursday, the CDC updated and expanded its list of who is at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19.
While older adults and people with underlying medical conditions remain at increased risk for severe illness, the CDC removed the specific age threshold for its “older adult” classification and is now warning that “among adults, risk increases steadily as you age, and it’s not just those over the age of 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness.”
Additionally, the agency updated the list of underlying medical conditions that increase a person’s risk of severe illness, regardless of age. The list includes individuals suffering from chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher, serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies, sickle cell disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
“These changes increase the number of people who fall into higher risk groups,” the CDC said in a press release. “An estimated 60 percent of American adults have at least one chronic medical condition. Obesity is one of the most common underlying conditions that increases one’s risk for severe illness—with about 40 percent of U.S. adults having obesity. The more underlying medical conditions people have, the higher their risk.”
During Thursday’s press briefing, Redfield explained that while the past few weeks saw cases begin to trend downwards, “there are a number of states across the united states, particularly in the Southeast and Southwest that are seeing increases.”
The CDC is closely monitoring these increases and has delayed sending more than 100 staff to more than 20 states, including those states seeing increases, to support the state and local health officials.
Red field urged those individuals at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, as well as those people living with or caring for them, continue to maintain social distancing measures.
“We recommend limiting contact with others, as such as possible, restricting contacts to a small number of people who are willing to take measures to reduce the risk of becoming infected. When you must go out into the community, being in contact with a few people is better than many, shorter period are better than longer and contact at greater distance, at least 6 feet, are better than closer,” he said.
The number of CCP virus cases across the United States continues to surge, especially in states like Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. Hospitalizations are also on the rise in these states. However, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Thursday that his state was treating fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, after the number of hospitalized cases dipped for the first time since mid-March.
Hospitalizations are also declining in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, as well.
Vice President Mike Pence will be holding an in-person White House CCP virus task force briefing on Friday, the first in two months.