Photo: Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Image

A more realistic estimate of the total number of U.S. coronavirus cases could be as high as 23 million — 10 times the 2.3 million currently confirmed cases — the CDC said Thursday on a call with reporters.

Why it matters: The estimate comes after the agency tracked blood samples across the country during testing for COVID-19 antibodies. "Our best estimate right now is that for every case that's reported, there actually are 10 other infections," CDC director Robert Redfield said.

The big picture: The new estimate comes as cases have surged across the country, but especially in the South and West.

  • Still, the U.S. has recorded fewer deaths when compared to March and April, which Redfield said could mean older adults are exhibiting more caution.
  • "This virus causes so much asymptomatic infection. The traditional approach of looking for symptomatic illness and diagnosing it obviously underestimates the total amount of infections," Redfield added.

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Updated Sep 20, 2020 - Health

7 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Seven states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health departments. Wisconsin and Nebraska surpassed records set the previous week.

Why it matters: Problem spots are sticking in the Midwest, although the U.S. is moving in the right direction overall after massive infection spikes this summer.

Updated 18 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced all domestic pandemic restrictions will be lifted in New Zealand from midnight Monday except in Auckland, where they'll be eased late Wednesday.

The big picture: Ardern delayed the country's election until Oct. 17 as authorities work to stamp out a coronavirus cluster in Auckland, after the re-emergence of COVID-19. There have been single-digit or zero domestic cases in NZ's most populous city since the government reintroduced restrictions.

Sep 20, 2020 - Health

Trump's health secretary asserts control over all new rules

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any new rules "regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The story further underscores reporting that health and scientific agencies are undergoing a deep politicization as the Trump administration races to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as Axios' Caitlin Owens has reported. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times that the Azar memo amounted to a "power grab."