In a piece published at The Atlantic this Tuesday, Alexis Madrigal contends that we’re not getting the full story when it comes to how many people have been infected with the coronavirus in the U.S.
“The data are untrustworthy because the processes we used to get them were flawed,” Madrigal writes. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s testing procedures missed the bulk of the cases. They focused exclusively on travelers, rather than testing more broadly, because that seemed like the best way to catch cases entering the country.”
Now that what public-health experts call “community spread” has taken place in the U.S., closing borders is no longer an efficient tactic to stop new infections. But according to Madrigal, fewer than 500 people have been tested so far across the country. “As a result, the current ‘official’ case count inside the United States stood at 43 as of this morning (excluding cruise-ship cases),” he writes. “This number is wrong, yet it’s still constantly printed and quoted. In other contexts, we’d call this what it is: a subtle form of misinformation.”
As China worked to contain their outbreak by putting around 700 million people under some kind of movement restriction, the U.S. public-health response “was stuck in neutral.”
“The case count in the U.S. was not increasing at all. Preparing for a sizable outbreak seemed absurd when there were fewer than 20 cases on American soil. Now we know that the disease was already spreading and that it was the U.S. response that was stalled.”
Read Madrigal’s full analysis over at The Atlantic.