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Although all 50 states have reopened their economies to some extent following the initial widespread closures that followed the arrival of COVID-19 in the U.S., the battle to limit the coronavirus’s spread is far from over. In recent days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) delivered two vital new updates regarding the pandemic, and two states reversed their economic reopenings. Learn all about the newest COVID-19 updates below.
CDC: Data underestimates actual case count
In a June 25 press conference, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said that the current tally of people who have contracted COVID-19 – 2,374,282 as of June 25 – may actually be a massive underestimate. Redfield pointed to antibody testing for COVID-19 as a major source for this discrepancy.
Redfield explained that in the early stages of the pandemic, testing for the virus was limited almost entirely to symptomatic people, so case rates did not reflect asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers. Once antibody testing arrived, he said, the CDC began seeing case rates of as high as 10 times more than previously reported. This data shift may not reflect an increase in cases, said Redfield, but a widespread improvement in testing technologies and capacity.
Antibody testing may also explain the recent downward trend in the median age of people testing positive for COVID-19. In Florida, for example, the average age of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the pandemic’s early stages was 65. The virus tends to more severely affect older people, and since testing in the early stages focused on symptomatic carriers, it made sense that the average patient age leaned older. As testing techniques have expanded, younger people less likely to require or seek medical attention for COVID-19 have been able to get tested, driving the median positive test age downward.
CDC: New official high-risk medical conditions
It has long been known that COVID-19 poses a higher risk to immunocompromised people as well as those who have heart disease, diabetes, and several other common conditions. On June 25, the CDC added four new underlying conditions to its list of those that may increase the severity of COVID-19 if contracted: moderate to severe asthma, pregnancy, previous strokes, and neurological conditions including dementia. It also added two new conditions to its list of those that definitely increase the severity of COVID-19 if contracted: obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The CDC has provided evidence for these classifications here.
Reopening: Texas and Florida have paused
Earlier this week, experts predicted that Florida could become the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida has thus paused its reopening plan, though it has not reversed its plan and enacted a second statewide lockdown. Instead, Governor Ron DeSantis is continuing to allow retailers, personal care services, gyms, and restaurants to operate at their current reduced capacities instead of moving them forward to larger reopenings.
In Texas, a similar reacceleration in infections has been seen, and there, Gov. Greg Abbott also paused the state’s reopening plan without reversing its previous measures. On June 24, Texas saw 5,551 new cases, the record to date. That same day, Florida announced its average daily new case rate to be 3,756, a 71 percent increase from the week prior.