COVID-19

CDC Says COVID-19 Cases in US May Be 10 Times Higher Than Reported

"This virus causes so much asymptomatic infection," CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said. "The traditional approach of looking for symptomatic illness and diagnosing it obviously underestimates the total amount of infections."

In this file photo, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
Photographer: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The true number of Americans who've been infected with COVID-19 may top 20 million, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Our best estimate right now is that for every case that's reported, there actually are 10 other infections," CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said on a call with reporters Thursday, NBC News reported.

The Ebb and Flow of New Coronavirus Cases and Deaths

The graphs below illustrate the distribution of new coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. While New York accounted for the lion’s share of new cases and deaths in March and April, its numbers have declined in May as some states have increased. Hover or tap to see new daily cases and deaths across the country. States with the most are ordered top to bottom.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC

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The estimate comes from looking at blood samples across the country for the presence of antibodies to the virus. For every confirmed case of COVID-19, 10 more people had antibodies, Redfield said, citing "so much asymptomatic infection."

Currently, there are 2.3 million COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. The CDC's new estimate pushes the actual number of coronavirus cases up to at least 23 million.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com.

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