The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 20 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19. That is about ten times higher than the number of confirmed cases, which is nearing 2.5 million.
The CDC has been conducting serology tests on blood samples and found that for every confirmed case of COVID-19, there were ten blood samples with antibodies for the coronavirus. The CDC isn't just using data from people who have received antibody tests. The agency has also been testing blood that has been donated at blood banks and blood samples that have been sent to labs across the nation.
"Our best estimate right now is that for every case that's reported, there actually are 10 other infections," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said.
Redfield believes that between five and eight percent of the population has already contracted the virus and is concerned that we are still in the early stages of the pandemic. He said that leaves more than 90% of the population susceptible to the virus.
The CDC's estimate comes as the number of new infections continues to rise in nearly two dozen states. While states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona showed early success with flattening the curve and keeping the number of new cases manageable, they have seen a significant increase in new cases as they have started to reopen their economies.
"Young people, many newly mobile after months of lockdowns, have been getting tested more often in recent weeks and driving the surge in cases in the South and West," he said. "In the past, I just don't think we diagnosed these infections."
Redfield said the best way to control the coronavirus pandemic is to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask when out in public.
"The most powerful tool that we have is social distancing," he said. "When you must go out into the community, being in contact with few people is better than many, [and] shorter periods are better than longer."
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