CDC Chief Says Actual COVID-19 Infections Ten Times Higher, No Big Deal

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said yesterday that the actual number of Americans who've been infected with COVID-19 is probably about ten times more than the 2.4 million who have actually been diagnosed with the disease. In a conference call with reporters, Redfield said the estimate of roughly 24 million infections was based on antibody tests, which show whether someone's immune system has had a response to the virus at any point in the past, as opposed to the diagnostic tests that confirm whether someone is infected at the time the test is given.

Redfield said he believes that so far about 5 to 8 percent of US Americans have been infected. Kudos to the Washington Post for underlining and explaining the implications of that number, since a lot of people don't seem to be paying attention:

Significantly, that would mean 92 to 95 percent remain susceptible to a coronavirus infection. Experts say this is the critical data point showing that the pandemic remains in its early stages and people need to continue to try to limit the viral spread.

We admire the restraint it must have taken not to add, "For fuck's SAKE, people!" See? We weren't about to resist it.

The WaPo piece is full of other servicey information that both informs and persuades, like a note that Redfield's comments come as the US keeps seeing record levels of newly diagnosed cases, particularly in Trump Country (the paper merely says "the South and West"), and yes, this is all happening "during warm-weather months that many had hoped would provide a lull in the pandemic." Nicely done, and since we're in for fuckssake mode, a useful corrective to wishful thinking that the "president" himself promoted in the early days of the outbreak.

And yeah, the US set another record with Thursday's case count: 39,327 new COVID-19 infections, which broke the previous record just set on Wednesday, 38,115.

Fortunately, the White House is on full No Big Deal duty, so Larry Kudlow, who reassured us in February that the virus was "contained" and that said containment was "pretty close to airtight," took to Fox Business Network to say that

the administration does not anticipate a second wave of infections, which has been projected by health experts, and that new hot spots popping up across the country are scenarios Americans will "just have to live with."

Or eventually die with, since death rates lag infection rates by several weeks. And again, he's technically correct, in that we're still in the first wave; a second wave is likely this fall, when flu and other respiratory ailments are likely to complicate the overall health picture.

Donald Trump went on Twitter yesterday to insist everything's fine, and that higher infection rates are nothing to worry about because he has come unstuck in time.

Again, today's death rates reflect the infection rates from weeks ago, which were indeed declining until more and more states started opening and people started rushing to bars and other indoor spaces. The death rates from the current record infection levels will catch up, and when they do, Trump will blame Obama.

Redfield also noted that in the newest outbreaks, younger Americans were getting sick in higher numbers than previously, but fingered testing like a common Trump:

Young people, many newly mobile after months of lockdowns, have been getting tested more often in recent weeks and driving the surge in cases in the South and West. [...] In the past, I just don't think we diagnosed these infections.

As everybody else explains: no.

The CDC also significantly revised its definition of who is most at risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19. Previously, it had warned that people over 65 were a risk group, but it has now dropped the specific age and says risk steadily increases with age. The New York Times'splains the reasoning for the adjustment:

Older people do have a higher risk of severe cases, the agency said, but that is in part because they are more likely to have other underlying medical problems, such as chronic kidney disease, lung disease, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

But the agency stressed that young people, especially but not limited to those with these conditions, are also at risk for severe illness and death.

Also too, WaPo, ever servicey, points out that the health officials on the conference call "clarified that obesity means a body mass index of 30 or higher. Roughly 40 percent of the adult population is obese under that definition."

In other words, everything's just fine, go about your lives, and for the love of god recognize when someone's saying that sarcastically. Wear a goddamn mask!

[NYT / WaPo / Politico]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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