More Than 3 Million Americans Are Contagious With Coronavirus, Models Estimate – Forbes

Last Updated on November 18, 2020 by


More than 3 million Americans currently have coronavirus and are contagious, according to models from Columbia University and University of Washington, reports which come as the U.S. is experiencing a surge in new cases and hospitalizations, with more than 11 million people contracting the virus since the start of the pandemic. 

Key Facts

Columbia University epidemiologist Jeffrey Shaman told the Washington Post the school’s model estimates 3.6 million Americans have coronavirus and are contagious, marking a 34% increase from last week when there was already a 36% jump from the previous week.

Shaman said the 3.6 million current cases do not include the roughly 3.6 million people who recently contracted coronavirus and are not yet contagious. 

Columbia’s model estimates the number of infected people is 5.5 times the number reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Cases are likely to increase as people gather for the holidays, Shaman said, noting he anticipates a significant number of people will be infected before the end of the year. 

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model indicates that as of Tuesday about 3.2 million Americans had contracted the virus since Election Day.

The model estimates there were 245,000 new daily cases on Tuesday and predicts daily increases for the next six weeks. 

Crucial Quote

University of Washington epidemiologist Ali Mokdad urged government officials and citizens to adhere to public health guidelines, telling the Washington Post the current status is analogous to neglecting to call the fire department immediately if there were a fire and, instead, waiting with the hope it wouldn’t spread.

Big Number

11,136,253. That is the number of coronavirus cases reported to the CDC since the start of the pandemic as of Tuesday.


Doctors have warned the number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. is likely to increase this winter. The heads of three major medical associations on Tuesday wrote a letter to President Trump urging the White House to share information about the pandemic response effort with President-elect Joe Biden to “save countless lives.” Biden told reporters Monday that the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan will be delayed by more than a month if his administration is unable to start planning until late January, saying “people may die” if there is not coordination. The General Services Administration, the agency responsible for the transition, has refused to work with Biden’s team. A spokesperson told the Associated Press the winner has not been determined, despite multiple outlets, including AP, projecting Joe Biden as the clear winner, and suggested the process might not start until the Electoral College meets in December or Trump concedes.

Further Reading

More than 3 million people in U.S. estimated to be contagious with the coronavirus (Washington Post)

Medical Associations Urge Trump To Share Coronavirus Information With Biden Transition Team (Forbes)

Refusing to concede, Trump blocks cooperation on transition (AP)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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