The CDC Could Make a Major Change to How It Classifies Coronavirus

It may sound good, but this change makes coronavirus no less dangerous.

Coronavirus has made international news for months, but there could soon be an important change in how we talk about it. That's because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has suggested that our current health crisis is on the verge of being downgraded from qualifying as an "epidemic."

The news was featured as part of the CDC's "Key Updates for Week 27" of the coronavirus epidemic. As reasoning for the possible change, they cited the "decrease in overall percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2," along with a decrease in deaths over the pas week. "Mortality attributed to COVID-19 decreased compared to last week and is currently at the epidemic threshold," the report stated.

However, there are some serious caveats to the possibility of downgrading. The CDC was quick to point out that while it could be downgraded if rates continued to drop, the organization expected rates of infection and death to increase over the following week. Week 27 happened to end with July 4th weekend, a disruption that "could impact both testing and reporting," and give a false sense that things are improving.

In fact, many health authorities warned that Fourth of July celebrations could send infection rates soaring and cause new spikes around the country. Given that the virus can incubate for up to two weeks within the body before presenting with symptoms, it's possible that the consequences for our cookouts and holiday gatherings still lay ahead.

Importantly, even if the CDC does downgrade its classification of the virus, the fact remains that our nation's new cases are rising at an alarming rate. This week, we broke yet another record for highest single day case count: The New York Times reported a surge of over 68,000 new American cases in just one day.

So, regardless of how we classify it, we need to take coronavirus seriously. It's up to us to flatten the curve and save lives that are still very much in danger. And find out why you should take proper precautions, even if you're feeling healthy: Even Without COVID Symptoms You Can Infect This Many People, CDC Says.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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