Reuters reports that the CDC suspects the Chinese virus may be far more prolific than we know.
Government experts believe more than 20 million Americans could have contracted the coronavirus, 10 times more than official counts, indicating many people without symptoms have or have had the disease, senior administration officials said.
The officials, speaking to a small group of reporters on Wednesday night, said the estimate was based on the number of known cases, between 2.3 million and 2.4 million, multiplied by the average rate of antibodies seen from the serology tests, about an average of 10 to 1.
“If you multiply the cases by that ratio, that’s where you get that 20 million figure,” said one official.
If true, the virus is far more widespread than we currently know, but it’s also less lethal. More who contract it may never show symptoms, or show very few and recover quickly as the Dallas Cowboys’ Zeke Elliott did.
As we have known for some time, older populations are far and away the most vulnerable.
The American Council on Science and Health reports that 33% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have struck people 85 years old or older. Another 46% were above 65 years old. So, about 79% of U.S. COVID deaths were above 65. The risks drop quickly with age, with well under one percent of deaths among those under 24 years of age.
Of the roughly 1.2 million American deaths that occurred between February 1 and June 17, almost 9% were due to coronavirus. The proportion of deaths due to coronavirus were about the same for each age group above 45 years. Below that, the proportion of deaths due to coronavirus fell dramatically. Thirteen children of primary and middle school age (5-14 years) died from COVID-19, but this represented only 0.7% of all deaths in this age group; 1,742 kids died of other things during this same time period.
I’m in Texas, which is currently experiencing a spike in cases. This is not unexpected; we stayed home to “flatten the curve” but we cannot shut down life forever. Some attribute the rise in cases to reopening businesses. This a common refrain in the media. But the rise in cases may also stem from the massive protests that have swept through most major cities. The protesters have tended to be young. The new COVID cases also tend to be young. Younger people are probably going out more and social distancing less, as media note, but the protesters have been young too.
Houston appears to be Texas’ current COVID epicenter, and hospital ICU capacity is nearing its limit. But four of the city’s major hospital systems report that they are able to handle the new cases.
The CEOs of Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann Health System, St. Luke’s Health and Texas Children’s Hospital held a virtual news conference aimed at reassuring the public that the systems are ready to handle whatever may come.
Recently, numbers released by the Texas Medical Center showed that 97% of intensive-care beds were occupied and the numbers were on track to exceed 100% in the future.
They say they prepared and have plenty of capacity, though the upward trend in hospitalizations is concerning.
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