USA Also Likely Has Thousands of Coronavirus Cases Already

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, member of the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina and former FDA commissioner, and Dr. Matt McCarthy, an infectious disease physician, were on CNBC to discuss the latest on the coronavirus outbreak. McCarthy and Gottlieb believe there are now in a few thousand undiagnosed coronavirus cases in the United States.

The FDA recalled a test kit and has not issued a new one. This has hamstrung the US medical system from accurately testing and diagnosing coronavirus cases.

McCarthy believes there will be school shutdowns in the USA and there will be significant outbreaks.

The US has the means to prevent an epidemic but more extreme measures will be needed.

Gottlieb and McCarthy believe that we are in the mitigation phase.

There are six deaths in the USA from coronavirus. Those were in Washington state.

They believe the South Korea statistics for cases and deaths is the most accurate. This means case fatality of 0.2 to 0.4%. This is for the overall population. People over 80 on a cruise ship could have 10% fatality.

It will take two weeks for the US to ramp up to 20,000 tests per day. This is when we will start to get real numbers of cases. We will start to see better numbers at the end of this week when there is 10,000 test per day capacity at 100 labs. It will more convenient for doctors when the academic labs have testing capacity.

Written By Brian Wang,

40 thoughts on “USA Also Likely Has Thousands of Coronavirus Cases Already”

  1. It is criminal how low level screening we had so far. Till mid last week only about 500 people that have been tested. We didn’t have luckily a mass introduction event like S Korea had with the sect. Even if we have around 5000 cases now we may avoid massive quarantines as testing is already ramping up.

  2. even 90 days is way way too long. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but were seeing doubling every 7 days or so. so 90 days from now? 1.6 million infected. now say 4 weeks more to actually make the vaccine, and we are at 25 million. Which also means 1/2 million dead. And thats assuming the vaccine works, and doesn’t cause your skin to fall off.

  3. If more deadly than the common flu, which all indications are it is, then from a quantitative perspective my point is valid. Jan commented on the death rate no? I was talking quantity, as that is what will matter in the end. Every multiple in mortality rate that is worse than the flu is a big deal, since with this it spreads easy. Then I commented on how people having zero HC can impact a population when a virus hits. All valid in the context.

    Jan: “Of course, detecting the disease earlier and thus starting the treatment earlier may lower the death rate…”

    Good luck with that in a place with millions of uninsured.

  4. Well yes, but that’s not addressing Jan’s question. Having an older, sicker population increases the death rate too. So would having tigers in the waiting rooms.

  5. Poor or inadequate health coverage = fewer seeking tests or treatment = higher rate of infection = more deaths.

  6. They’re both outliers. Iran’s official death rate was initially nearly 20%, but then consistently dropped as the published number of cases increased. Now it’s at 3.3%. Whereas South Korea has had an exceptionally low death rate from the beginning.

    There may have been some sort of bias in the patient demographics, but I think in Iran it may have been just a statistical fluke. Or maybe they were only reporting the heavy cases at first.

    For SK, given their number of cases, I’d expect any statistical of demographic bias to be gone by now, so I’m really not sure what’s going on there. Some sort of better medical measures maybe? We’ll see in a week or two if their death rate lines up with the rest of the world…

  7. The transmission/reproduction rate in the US may be different from than in China, or most Asian and European countries.

    1. Most Americans don’t use public transit as much
    2. Most Americans don’t live in huge crowded apartment buildings in crowded cities (Except may be NYC)
    3. Cultural differences – Americans maintain more personal space with strangers.
    4. In general hygienic practices in the US is way better than in China (I know, I know, our homeless are an exception in NYC, SF and LA)
    5. Big states like California, Texas and Florida are quite warm already (LA was 82 F on Tuesday)
    6. It was late Winter here already before this started to spread here, In China it started spreading in early Winter/late Fall
    7. Our hospitals and hospital workers do a better job treating and preventing infections at the hospital.

    It remains to be seen if these differences make enough of a difference to matter.

  8. Yes, but South Korea nominally ‘got going’ before Iran, but SK has a much lower mortality rate than Iran. So SOMETHING is going on, even if it is or was just mis-reporting from Iran.

  9. I don’t believe 1%, unless we find new treatments like HIV meds or antigens or something. Just a warm pillow and some oxygen and it will be 2-3%. Could even be 3-4% because we are not the healthiest people on the planet. 40% of Americans have at least 1 chronic disease. And I don’t think they are even counting obesity, as that is 40% by itself.
    75% of those aged 50 to 64 use prescription drugs, 91% of those age 80 and older and fully 2/3 of the US population. They wouldn’t need those if there was not a health condition.

  10. It’s bad because it still has the potential of overwhelming in the hospital system and when that happens people that will need respirators to survive won’t get them. This is basically what happened in Wuhan and probably is one reason the mortality rate is so high there.

  11. I think you would be surprised how many churches would go ahead with services.
    Many churches have those who are sick come forward to be prayed for by the elders.
    Not a good scenario, at least from a logical perspective. If the elders are actually elderly, you could loose some elders. Not quite as bad as licking sacred sites…but…

  12. The Constitution is not a suicide pact.
    Congress would write no law with intent to suppress or control religion – just large public gatherings. MOST churches would be sensible enough to cooperate with the emergency order, for the safety of their own members.

    If some church demanded their right to meet, they could probably get a court to block enforcement. And when one of their members is then found to have the virus, every single attendee at that church would be put in quarantine – not as punishment or to end-run around the court order, but simply because they have been exposed.

  13. “…to shut down all public gatherings including schools, public transport, churches, movies, etc.”
    We can’t do what you suggest.
    “Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    Shutting down churches would have to be entirely voluntary.

    We can shut down travel. Force people wear masks when gathering. But a few days shutting down travel does not accomplish much. You have to choose what to shut down smartly, so you can maintain it for a few months without economic turmoil and public pressure. Better to advise people who don’t truly need to travel, not to. And close the fun destinations: amusement parks, national and state parks, museums, theaters, excursion companies.
    We need to protect retirement communities and elder care facilities. That means greatly reducing those permitted to enter. It means workers wearing gloves and masks, and such. And all the workers should be tested weekly with temperature checks daily.

    I think anyone with symptoms of a cold should have to wear a safety mask like this:
    It allows a little room for a tissue, but protects the public somewhat, and you know who not to shake hands with.

  14. Israel is fast tracking their’s. Goal is 90 days until deployment.
    That does not help the US of course. Our “glorious” health care system and pharmaceutical industry are moving at a much slower pace. And we were told the others were all “free riders”…

  15. There’s a pretty clear spread path from China to several other countries, from them to Italy and Iran, and from them to everywhere else. If you go to and click the individual countries in the main cases table, you can trace the spread.

    On the evolution, I took a look at the virus evolution article a couple weeks ago. From what I gathered, the modern viruses evolved in the last few centuries. My guess – catalyzed by the spike in human and farming density in the same period.
    (edit: Or maybe it was looking up the evolution of specific viruses individually, rather than a single article…)

  16. It is likely 5-10x as deadly to the elderly 60+ and those with pre-existing conditions than the normal flu. Younger folk under 50 don’t seem to get hit as hard. Kids not at all. Lets call it the Boomer Plague.

  17. I believe both things are correct. We are in early stages. People will die in coming weeks in Korea. But there is more tests being done, so a more real perception can be made. I thing the death rate can become something like 1%.

  18. People need to wait, a few weeks. There is a latency between first symptoms and death. A few weeks from now, death cases will spike in south korea.

  19. That’s a start – but if there really are 800 or 1000 cases, there are almost certainly cases in counties outside those with known cases. Doing this piecemeal will at best slow the spread.

    A one-week national travel ban (airlines, inter-city roads and trains) would greatly increase our certainty of where the virus is and is not. Not 100%, but far better than closing the county barn doors after the virus-horses have left.

    Or we can wait a week and it’ll be in many more places. In another month there may be little point trying to shut down travel, we’ll probably have vigilante efforts such as were seen in rural China, and our remaining choice will be to shut down all public gatherings including schools, public transport, churches, movies, etc.

    Vietnam did the latter early on – 16 cases, 16 recoveries, despite proximity to China.

  20. That idea that stopping the spreading of the virus would affect the death rate is not correct. It prevents new cases, but it does not affect the likelyhood of death for an infected patient. Of course, detecting the disease earlier and thus starting the treatment earlier may lower the death rate…

  21. Fine line between doing more harm than the virus will do. That being said, I still wonder why the CDC, up until this week, required all testing be done at their site when tests were widely available in other countries. Dunno …false positives or inaccurate tests … Could be.

  22. It is related to when the cases are caught. A country like S. Korea that is testing thousands of people a day is catching infected people in an earlier stage and that affects both how severe the cases are and the infection rate. A person that is found to carry the virus and still does not have any symptoms is unlikely to transmit the virus to anyone and has much lower chance to die out of the disease. In Italy they are probably testing for less people for each infected person and in Iran much less thus the mortality rate is progressively higher.
    A measure of that should be calculated for each country.

  23. Listen to the CDC and WHO drs, they all say yes we have vaccines in the works, but they are all a year away. now do the math on the exponential growth on this. Thats not even remotely ready in time.

  24. I actually wonder if this virus wasn’t already around in many countries, is very old, and migrated with wildlife over thousands or millions of years. Is it possible that it’s already been causing respiratory issues for years, but has just been written off as, “Oh, you have pneumonia, let’s just treat that.”, that it hasn’t ever had widespread exposure to humans in a dense area?

    What if the measures in place and treatment of the common cold have kept it at bay until an accidental infection at the wrong place at the wrong time? Could some populations already have somewhat of herd immunity to it?

    I’m really just playing devil’s advocate as a thought experiment, but I do wonder. The WHO recently has noted that COVID-19 is containable. With a little common sense and good hygiene practice, I bet it certainly is. Wash your hands, do the vampire cough, don’t touch your face (at least as much, if possible), make the proper blood sacrifices, etc, pray to Cthulhu, all that stuff.

  25. The US & Israel have vaccines in the works, undergoing human trails. Before this gets to be a big problem in the US, it will be taken care of.

  26. Yes. That was pie in the sky nonsense. Are the Italian doctors supposed to be morons? They have 2.5% fatalities. The reason the South Koreans have a low rate is that it is in the early spreading phase and not many people have had it for long. They are also healthier than we are. Life expectancy in South Korea is 82.7 years. Life expectancy in the US is 78.7 years.

  27. Oh, it will definitely spread no mater what we do, but we may be able to limit it to 6 or 7 counties if we can act fast. Not having the tests…that could be crippling. But I think we have enough information to start to isolate some counties now.
    We could easily end up with a million cases, if it really is loose in New York, Tampa, and parts of California and Washington State.
    But without isolation…could be millions of deaths rather than just millions of cases.
    I have no doubt we will be much less effective than the Chinese. Our government is pathetic with stuff like this.
    I would also require all truckers to wear masks regardless of what their route is. Advise people not to travel for entertainment. Shut down the National Parks. Ask businesses to use flights less, and do things virtually, if possible. Air travel should mostly be for people who need to get somewhere to care for a family member or to get a family back together (not a family get-together), or they are moving. No vacations or tourist stuff.
    Also have people not open packages that were shipped to them until they have sat in their home for a few days. Shipping can be so fast these days that the virus could still be alive when you get something.
    Field workers should also not be obviously sick, should wear masks, must use porta potties.
    Everyone at the facilities that get packaging together like those working at Amazon need to be tested and every day their temperature should be checked. They should also wear pro

  28. Let’s say you are in the ballpark. The problem as I see it is that if a person with it infects another 2.6 people on average and they are asympotmatic for a week or two, that 800 would turn into 5,000 people in a couple of weeks and then into 1.7 million people within about 8-10 weeks. The math is not good if there is no way to know who is infected.

    No one wants to be an alarmist. But it would be nice if an epidemiologist could explain why this won’t happen.

  29. lol, they believe the mortality rate is 0.2%? Thats laughable on its face. if it was 0.2% it WOULD be like the common flu. What a bunch of nonsense.

    Do folks REALLY believe that China shut down cities over something the same as the flu? And are STILL shut down?

  30. I suspect we are at the 800 case level. And spreading very fast. Containable with extreme measures. Though such measures are highly unlikely.
    We need to isolate some Washington State and Florida counties. Let the highways still operate, but close all the ramps in the affected counties.
    Let people in that need to be there that live there and happen to be out of the county.

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