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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.

Go deeper

Mark Meadows: Trump experiencing "mild" coronavirus symptoms

President Trump is experiencing "mild" coronavirus symptoms after testing positive, a maskless White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Friday.

Why it matters: The president is at high risk for a severe COVID-19 infection, due to his age at 74 and his body mass index, which puts him just over the line into obesity, as recorded in his last two annual physicals.

Oct 2, 2020 - World

Australia and New Zealand to open "safe travel zone"

Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, Australia, in February. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand have agreed to "safe travel zone" plan that will be gradually rolled out, Australian Deputy PM Michael McCormack announced Friday.

Details: McCormack said the travel "bubble" will initially see Kiwis who aren't in a COVID-19 hot spot permitted to fly to New South Wales and the Northern Territory from Oct. 16 without mandatory quarantine. But NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made clear that Kiwis will have to go into quarantine upon their return.

Three journalists working at White House test positive for COVID-19

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany holding a press briefing on Oct. 1. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

At least three reporters working at the White House tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, Zeke Miller, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, said in a letter to colleagues.

Why it matters: The cases follow President Trump's positive COVID-19 diagnosis and cases among other White House staffers. Multiple White House journalists are self-isolating while awaiting test results, Miller said.