This Many Americans May Have Had Coronavirus and Didn't Know It, Says CDC

As cases spike in the U.S., officials estimate a shocking number of people were unknowingly infected.

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Following a record number of cases reported in a single day, U.S. health officials say that a massive number of Americans may have been infected with coronavirus without knowing it. According to data from John Hopkins University, nearly 40,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the U.S. on Thursday June 25—the most in a single day, a record previously set on April 24. The alarming same-day spike brought the total number of U.S. cases to more than 2.4 million since the pandemic started, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the actual number is 10 times that. On Friday June 26, CDC director, Robert Redfield, told CNN that antibody tests results show that more than 20 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus, many of them without even knowing it.

When it came to the results of nationwide antibody tests—which analyze a person's blood to detect any signs that their immune system had responded to an infection, indicating whether or not they had COVID-19—Redfield said of undiagnosed cases, "A good rough estimate now is 10 to 1." He explained that between five percent and eight percent of Americans have been infected with the coronavirus, which means at minimum, 90 percent of people in the U.S. haven't been infected and therefore remain susceptible to the virus.

Young man in mask sitting in lab while doctor in protective coveralls taking his blood in syringe for analysis
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The staggering revelation came after states like Arizona, Texas and New Mexico announced that they were putting reopening plans on pause in an attempt to contain the spread. Some medical experts, however, say such efforts aren't going to cut it and that far more drastic measures need to be taken.

Speaking to CNN on Friday morning, Peter Hotez, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said the country is in a "heartbreaking situation," and one that requires immediate action. "We have to save lives at this point," he added.

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Rising cases numbers have been reported all around the country since states begin reopening—noticeably picking up steam after Memorial Day, just as some doctors predicted.

"Every epidemiologist was telling, screaming as loud as we could, that three weeks after Memorial Day, we'd have a peak in the cases, and five weeks after Memorial Day we'd begin to see a peak in hospitalizations and deaths," epidemiologist Larry Brilliant told CNN. "If you let everybody out without face masks and without social distancing in the middle of a pandemic, this is what was predicted." And for more on what's driving the most recent COVID-19 outbreaks, check out This One Thing Is Spreading Coronavirus Faster Than Anything Else.

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