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The total number of COVID-19 infections in the US is shockingly high, CDC shows

Published Feb 1st, 2021 9:05PM EST
Covid Cases US Total
Image: vladimirhodac/Adobe

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  • Since the start of the pandemic, the CDC estimates that the coronavirus may have infected 83 million Americans, not the 26 million figure you see in the current official tally.
  • Most people who catch the coronavirus are believed to either be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that don’t warrant hospitalization.
  • The CDC is still urging anyone who previously tested positive for COVID-19 to get vaccinated.

On May 8, 2020, UFC fighter Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza tested positive for the coronavirus just 24 hours before his middleweight bout against Uriah Hall. Prior to the positive test result, Souza was in excellent shape and went through a full and vigorous training camp without showing any symptoms that would suggest he had COVID. Over the past few months, similar scenarios played out with athletes across the NFL and the NBA as well.

The story above underscores one of the peculiarities about the coronavirus, namely that some people contract the virus and become seriously ill while others are entirely asymptomatic. So while the official number of coronavirus cases in the US currently stands at about 26.2 million, it stands to reason that the actual figure is significantly higher when the asymptomatic cases are taken into account.

In light of the above, the CDC has utilized statistical data and models to help determine the full impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. since the pandemic began early last year. According to an analysis of data captured between February 2020 and December 2020, the CDC estimates that there have been upwards of 83.1 million COVID-19 infections in the U.S.

Even if the estimate above is off by 30 million, it’s still more than double the current number of diagnosed infections. A similar study published in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases this past November estimates that the COVID-19 infection tally through the end of September 2020 was close to 53 million.

While some people might look at this data positively to the extent that 83.1 million people may already have antibodies to COVID-19, the CDC is still urging people who already tested positive to get vaccinated.

The CDC notes:

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus vaccination rollout in the U.S. is finally starting to pick up steam. To date, the U.S. has administered approximately 31.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses since mid-December. Even more encouraging is that the vaccination rate has been rising steadily in recent weeks. As it stands now, the U.S. is administering an average of 1.3 million vaccine doses every single day. If vaccinations can reach a sustained rate of 1.5 million people per day, health experts believe that life could return to normal by this summer.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.