ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10/CNN) — With infection numbers rising in more than 30 states, including Georgia, the US set a daily record for new coronavirus cases. And federal health officials warned that the number of people who’ve been infected is vastly undercounted.
At least 37,077 coronavirus cases were reported Thursday, surpassing a previous one-day high on April 24, according to Johns Hopkins University.
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— The Associated Press (@AP) June 26, 2020
The sudden spike in confirmed cases in recent days comes as no surprise, a health expert said.
“Every epidemiologist was telling, screaming as loud as we could that three weeks after Memorial Day, we’d have a peak in the cases and five weeks after Memorial Day we’d begin to see a peak in hospitalizations and deaths,” epidemiologist Larry Brilliant told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday night.
“If you let everybody out without face masks and without social distancing in the middle of a pandemic, this is what was predicted.”
And while more than 2.4 million cases have been diagnosed nationwide since the pandemic started, the number of people who have been infected is likely to be 10 times as high. Antibody tests show more than 20 million people have been infected with coronavirus, most of them without knowing it, said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Antibody tests examine a person’s blood for signs that the immune system responded to an infection. Federal officials have been conducting such tests nationwide to determine how many people had past undiagnosed infections.
“A good rough estimate now is 10 to 1,” Redfield said.
Between 5% and 8% of Americans have been infected with coronavirus but the numbers vary by region. New York, once the epicenter of the pandemic, will have a higher percentage of people with past infections than some states in the West, Redfield said
That means 90% or more have not been infected and are susceptible to the virus, highlighting the need to act aggressively to combat the rising infection rates.
Some of the cases went unnoticed partly because testing was at first limited to people who were very ill, Redfield said. As more people get tested, he added, it’s clear a large percentage had mild symptoms or none at all.
States postpone reopening plans
Coronavirus has killed over 124,000 people in the United States, and confirmed cases are surging in a majority of the country.
So far, 32 states are reporting an increase in new coronavirus cases this week as compared to the prior week. Eleven of them are reporting a 50% increase or greater. They include Montana, Idaho, Vermont, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi.
“It’s growing, and it’s growing fast across all age groups and demographics,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said at a news conference Thursday. “Anyone can get this virus, and anyone can spread this virus.”
Arizona health officials reported new cases topping 3,000 as of last week, a pace that could soon overwhelm hospital intensive care facilities, the governor said. “We expect that our numbers will be worse next week and the week following,” Ducey said.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott paused any further phases to reopen as the state recorded nearly 6,000 Covid-19 cases Thursday. “It’s pretty dire,” said Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine.
Abbott’s moves came as his state, California and Florida — the three-most populous — set records for new coronavirus cases.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also indicated his state would not be moving to relax present restrictions. So did Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, who said the state is putting further economic reopening plans on hold.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a budget emergency to free up $16 billion to fight the pandemic. The state’s hospitals have seen a 32% increase in patients with coronavirus over the past two weeks, he said.
The list of most vulnerable is updated
At the beginning of the pandemic, health experts didn’t focus on younger people because the priority was the older population and those with underlying health conditions.
CDC updates & expands list of those at risk of severe #COVID19 illness. Older adults & people w/ underlying medical conditions remain at increased risk for severe illness. CDC has now further defined age- & condition-related risks. See today’s statement: https://t.co/aCeEMrBNlv pic.twitter.com/SIqb8wSank
— CDC (@CDCgov) June 25, 2020
With the rising numbers, some states are warning that the virus is affecting a wider range of people. More younger people testing positive is a “smoldering fire” that will hit vulnerable populations, said Erin Bromage, a CNN medical analyst and a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Meanwhile, federal health officials updated the list of who’s most at risk of severe complications from Covid-19.
The CDC added mild obesity to a list that includes the elderly, people with lung or kidney disease, and those with diabetes. People with moderate to severe asthma are also at higher risk along with pregnant women, the CDC said. Those with cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also at higher risk, the CDC’s Dr. Jay Butler said.
So are those with conditions such as sickle cell disease, poorly controlled HIV infection, bone marrow transplants or an organ transplant.
The CDC also removed the specific age threshold, saying it’s not just those over age 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness.
The CDC issued the following guidance for protecting yourself, your family, and your community:
Every activity that involves contact with others has some degree of risk right now. Knowing if you are at increased risk for severe illness and understanding the risks associated with different activities of daily living can help you make informed decisions about which activities to resume and what level of risk you will accept. This information is especially critical as communities begin to reopen.
Everyone should continue to do their part to implement prevention strategies, such as focusing on activities where social distancing can be maintained, washing your hands frequently, limiting contact with and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces or shared items, and wearing a cloth face covering when you are around people you do not live with, especially when it is difficult to stay 6 feet apart or when people are indoors. By taking these steps, you can help protect yourself, your loved ones, and others around you, including those most vulnerable to severe illness.
©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to the story.