COVID-19 is spreading in 72% of US counties, study suggests

COVID-19 is likely spreading in nearly three-fourths of all U.S. counties, according to a new study cited by The New York Times.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin ran simulations of COVID-19's spread to estimate every county's likelihood of undetected, yet extensive community transmission.

In counties with no reported cases, there is a 9 percent chance that an undetected outbreak is occurring. This percentage jumps to 51 percent with one known case and 70 percent with two known cases. 

Nationwide, 72 percent of counties (accounting for 94 percent of the U.S. population) have a more than 50 percent chance of ongoing COVID-19 transmission.

These findings support the use of proactive social distancing measures, even in areas without known cases, the researchers said.

"I worry that many local officials are waiting until there is clear evidence of local transmission before taking action," study author Lauren Ancel Meyers, PhD, a professor of biology and statistics at UT Austin, told NYT. "The message is, we should not wait."

To view the full study, click here.

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