3.6 million Americans may be contagious with COVID-19, researchers say


More than 3 million Americans may have active COVID-19 infections and be contagious, according to a new estimate cited by The Washington Post.

Researchers at Columbia University in New York City developed the model, which estimates that 3.6 million people have COVID-19 and are shedding enough of the virus to infect other people. This figure marks a 34 percent increase in estimated infections compared to a week prior, according to Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, an epidemiologist at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health whose team created the model.

"It's bad; it’s really, really bad," Dr. Shaman told the Post. "We're running into Thanksgiving now, and that's only going to make it worse. We’re going to go through a lot of people being infected between now and the end of the year, unfortunately."

The 3.6 million figure represents nearly 1 percent of the U.S. population and is nearly equivalent to the number of public school teachers nationwide, according to the Post. The model estimates another 3 million people likely have latent infections, meaning they recently contracted the virus but are not contagious. 

More articles on public health:
US daily death toll highest since May; Pfizer's vaccine 95% effective — 7 COVID-19 updates
US healthcare workers may get first COVID-19 vaccine doses in a month, Fauci says
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