CDC says millions of Americans had virus without knowing it
Nearly 25 million Americans may have contracted the novel coronavirus, or 10 times larger than the current number of confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a briefing with the media on Thursday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said surveys of blood samples taken from around the country suggest that millions of Americans may have contracted the virus either without knowing it or with only minimal symptoms.
For every one confirmed case, Redfield and the CDC estimates that 10 more Americans have been infected without realizing that they were sick.
"This virus causes so much asymptomatic infection," Redfield said. "We probably recognized about 10 percent of the outbreak."
Almost 2.4 million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. Redfield said the serological surveys of blood samples, collected both for coronavirus tests and for other reasons like blood donations or laboratory tests, showed that between 5 percent and 8 percent of Americans have contracted the virus.
Most people who contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus show few if any symptoms, and only a small percentage require hospitalization. But while the number of potentially infected people is multitudes higher than the number of confirmed cases, Redfield also said the relatively low percentage of Americans who have been infected means hundreds of millions more remain at risk.
"This outbreak is not over. This pandemic is not over. The most powerful tool that we have, powerful weapon, is social distancing," Redfield said. "We have responsibility to practice the social mitigation strategies to protect the vulnerable, to protect the elderly."