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CDC director Redfield says cases of COVID-19 may be 10 times higher than reported

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Dr. Robert Redfield is the director of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. Redfield also works as the current Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

On Thursday, June 25, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, told reporters that he believes the actual number of COVID-19 cases is 10 times higher than what is currently reported, per The Washington Post.

“Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections," Redfield said.

As of June 25, there are nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., so if Redfield is correct, that would increase the total number of cases to 25 million in the country. This drastic increase in true cases would lower the mortality rate, which currently hovers around 4-5% given the total number of confirmed cases and deaths.

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Redfield's estimate is based on blood samples collected from across the country that look for the presence of antibodies to the virus. For every confirmed case of COVID-19, 10 more people had antibodies, Redfield said.

Arizona is currently one of the nation's hot spots with a total of 63,030 confirmed cases and 1,490 confirmed deaths, per the Arizona Department of Health Services. Today, Arizona saw another day with over 3,000 confirmed cases. On June 25, the state reported 3,056 new confirmed cases with 27 new confirmed deaths.

However, what has been even more worrisome has been the spike in cases the past few weeks. On June 12, Arizona's total test positive rate was 6.7%, and today on June 25, the percent has risen to 8.9% with the past week showing daily percentages above 20%. As of June 24, Arizona's intensive care unit beds reached 88% of its total capacity with a total of 1,495 people currently in the ICU, per the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Arizona test positive percentages on the ASU Biodesign Critical COVID-19 trends website. On Wednesday, June 24, 22.95% of tests in Arizona came back as positive.

The state of Texas recently announced it was pausing its reopening because it has seen a "massive outbreak" of COVID-19. Texas Medical Center in Houston said Tuesday that 97% of its ICU beds were occupied and that 27% of those patients were people who had tested positive for the coronavirus, per the National Public Radio.

The possibility of the true number of COVID-19 cases being 10 times higher than reported is a double-edged sword: It drastically reduces the mortality rate but also goes to show how easily the virus is transmitted and how widespread the virus truly is in our nation.

“This pandemic is not over,” Redfield said. “The most powerful tool that we have, the most powerful weapon, is social distancing.”


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (9/25)
944 31 3.3%
Total (8/4)
35,583 2,255 6.3%
Includes tests since August 4, 2020
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated September 25, 2020