The CDC reports that 60% of Americans and 3 out of 4 US children has had covid

Covid certainly is our “new normal,” isn’t it? News about it rarely shocks anymore. Unfortunately, it seems like there are always going to be new cases and new variants. After a terrifying 2020, I personally feel a bit desensitized to news about covid in general. But I do have moments when I feel tired or a tickle in my throat and become convinced it snuck around my mask at the office or the grocery store, and then I worriedly take tests. (It certainly doesn’t help that it is now allergy season and the symptom list has expanded with each new variant and now a little too much wine can cause covid symptoms). So I’m resigned, but still scared of getting sick and passing it on to my household. But this new report from the CDC makes me feel a little more calm. Apparently most Americans have already had covid.

Back in December, before the omicron variant swept through the country, slightly over a third of Americans had been infected with COVID-19. But just two months later, after the highly contagious variant led to thousands of new cases, most Americans had been infected at least once, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control found.

Using data from blood tests taken around the country, the CDC determined that 33.5% of Americans had COVID-19 antibodies that developed from infection, and not vaccination, in Dec. 2021. By Feb. 2022, that percentage had jumped significantly, up to 58%.

The biggest increase was in kids under 18 — by February, 75%, or 3 in 4 kids, had COVID-19 antibodies in their system.

“By February 2022, evidence of previous Covid-19 infections substantially increased among every age group,” Dr. Kristie Clarke, a CDC researcher who led the study, said at a press briefing.

The jump in the prevalence of antibodies made sense given the omicron surge, Clarke said, but was still a surprise.

“I definitely expected to see an increase continue,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to increase quite this much but we look at the data and that’s what the evidence is showing us.”

The CDC’s research gives a more accurate look at the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide than the reported cases, which do not account for any tests that are taken at home and not reported to local health departments, or cases where people do not take a test to confirm that they’re positive.

“We know that reported cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” Clarke said.

She also added that this is the first time that the prevalence of antibodies has been over 50% in the U.S.

And while the majority of Americans have now had COVID-19 at least once, both Clarke and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cautioned that a prior infection “does not mean that you’re protected” from getting the virus again, especially if another variant rises up to surpass omicron.

They said that vaccination is still the best protection against COVID-19, and that the sharp rise in cases among kids is likely because they have the lowest vaccination rates — though children age 5 to 11 have been eligible for vaccination since the beginning of November, just 28.4% are fully vaccinated as of April 26, according to the CDC.

“We continue to recommend that everyone be up to date on their vaccinations, get your primary series and booster, when eligible,” Walensky said.

[From People]

So 60% of Americans, including 75% of children, have already had covid infections. They got that data from blood tests that determined covid antibodies from infections, not vaccinations. And I’m guessing the actual numbers may be even higher to account for people who did not have blood drawn during the clinical testing time period. While these numbers might have been disconcerting a year ago, they actually make me feel a bit better now. I’m still quite fearful of getting a bad case or long haul covid (I am a baby about even the common cold) so the idea that I could have had it already and been asymptomatic is comforting. The article says it’s “the first time that the prevalence of antibodies has been over 50% in the U.S.” Does that mean we’re turning a corner toward covid being less scary and more like a seasonal flu? I hope so. That will still suck, but I remember those first few months when NYC was nearly silent except for the frequent ambulance sirens, so that puts it into perspective.

An important caveat to this news is that even if you’ve had covid once, you can get it again. Anecdotally, I know people who had it twice or had it after two vaccinations and a booster. Notable public figures have had post-vaccination cases as well. It’s impossible to be perfect and I know a lot of us are experiencing “caution fatigue.” It’s hard, I know! I’m still going to mask up in large/crowded areas and in certain places like airplanes, trains, grocery stores, and public bathrooms (that one is a personal preference). In closing, I will leave these timeless words from 2016: “wash your hands and don’t cough on people, dum-dums.”

Photos credit: Norma Mortenson on Pexels, Atoms and Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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24 Responses to “The CDC reports that 60% of Americans and 3 out of 4 US children has had covid”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I got it after my booster, and I know I got it from my kids, who were both fully vaccinated at the time. The one had a bad cough for a few days; the other one just spiked a fever for an hour and that was it. Both were sick for such a short period (especially the second one) that COVID didn’t even occur to me. I tested positive a week later bc I had a bad cold that cold meds were not touching. But that was the only thing that made me think it was COVID – the meds weren’t helping. It just felt like a bad cold, and I was extra tired. I can see a lot of people experiencing symptoms similar to mine and not even thinking COVID.

    (and none of us have had blood drawn so we’re not counted in those numbers.)


    • LadyMTL says:

      Becks, I am glad to hear that it wasn’t too bad for you or the kids. My coworker and her husband both got Covid a few days ago, and they both have had 4 shots. My closest friend caught it from her daughter just before the Easter long weekend…everyone had basically what sounded like a heavy cold, thankfully nothing worse.

      I actually tested myself on Monday and Tuesday because I was SO tired and had a scratchy throat, but both were negative. It’s difficult to say these days if it’s Covid or not, because I do have mild seasonal allergies. Am I going to test every time I sneeze? Probably not, but it’s annoying to even have to think about it lol. I definitely do have Covid fatigue.

    • AnnaKist says:

      Good to hear you guys fared so well. We were quarantining before the pandemic began as my daughter was preparing for stem cell transfers. When this was done she became really ill. They thought her body was rejecting the stem cells. It turned out she was in stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She’s been in treatment for 14 months. She’s fully vaccinated but caught Coverd a couple of months ago. It could have been a lot worse than it was, and she got through it okay. Just before Easter she and her brother went to a concert. We went to my sister’s house on Easter Sunday, and then to my niece’s house. My son complained that he was feeling sick but he’s a drama queen so I put it down to man flu. When my daughter said she was also feeling sick, the penny dropped. He got through it fine. she was sick for four or five days. During this period I also became ill. My daughter tested me on the Tuesday after Easter I was Covid positive,too.

      At first it was like having a mild flu. Then the aches and pains started, as well as vomiting. I could not stop. On Sunday morning I was rushed to hospital and now I am in an isolation ward,until Sunday, under the care of a Gastro enterologist. That’s how the Covid affected me. I was so sick, and kept thinking about the people who were in intensive care, and those who wouldn’t make it. If I felt this bad, how bad did they feel? It’s a horrible, horrible disease, and I don’t understand how some people can be so cavalier about it.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Oh, my goodness, AnnaKist! I’m glad you’re well enough to read CB in hospital! And so very glad your son & daughter (who’s been through so much already) are faring better.

    • Chicken says:

      I had pretty much the same experience about a week and half ago. I still mask up most places, but I ate my first meal around others at a work lunch event, so my mask was off while I was eating. My maskless time happened to coincide with a woman at the table over, who was clearly ill, having a massive, un-masked coughing fit, right in my direction (not one of my coworkers, from another organization, and know who she works for, I highly doubt she was vaccinated). I was so bitter afterward that someone would go to a large event while clearly ill. Anyway, I thought it was allergies, but they were worse than normal, so I tested, and it was positive. The congestion cleared up fairly quickly, but I was really tired the whole week. I’m fine now.

      • Chicken says:

        Adding – I’m vaccinated and boosted, but not yet eligible for a second booster.

  2. Dee+Kay says:

    I am still masking indoors everywhere. However, yesterday before an early morning flight, I was desperate to eat something and took off my mask long enough to have an omelette. I’m going to be really p–sed if I get COVID bc of that omelette. Also, I gotta schedule my 4th shot. No matter what anyone says or how tired ppl are of taking precautions I will never treat the threat of COVID lightly. Yesterday less than half the p were masking on my flights or in the airports.

    • Gillysirl says:

      Someone said “If I’m getting COVID, it’s going to be from being around the people I love, not from random strangers on a plane.”

      Exactly. I don’t miss getting colds and I don’t miss being told to “smile”.

      • SativaIsland says:

        I was driving on a backwoods road on a remote Canadian island and realized I was wearing my mask. I laughed at myself and took it off and I KID YOU NOT, three minutes later, a redneck in a pickup coming the opposite direction through a roadwork bottleneck told me to smile. That sh*t makes it easy to keep masking for this cowgirl.

  3. Gil says:

    I took a flight back to Japan last week from LAX airport and it was scary to see so many people maskless boarding domestic flights. IMO boarding a plane maskless is like wanting to get COVID for sure. I live in Japan and I haven’t got COVID yet. I have the intention to keep wearing mask in public settings probably for the rest of my days. It’s been nice not having a cold for two years

    • Normades says:

      Pre-Covid I always caught a cold on the plane. So Covid or no Covid masking on transportation (including buses and subway) will be my new norm.

    • Chaine says:

      I flew earlier this week (inside the US) and no more than 10% of people on my flight or in the airports were masked. Only one person on the flight crew masked. Scariest was the pilot standing at the exit at the end of the flight loudly bidding each person to have a nice day, unmasked, only about a foot away from our faces. Do not breathe on me! Do NOT talk into my face! He didn’t care that I was wearing a mask, a mask that should have signaled to him that this is a person who is concerned about spread of an airborne virus.

  4. AC says:

    I am lucky that I haven’t had it and I got my 4th booster last Friday. I am still wearing a mask everywhere except when I am at home. It’s scary to see people not wearing them and acting like the pandemic is over and the numbers here in the US are starting to go up again. Case in point, VP Kamala Harris.

  5. North of Boston says:

    I don’t find the fact that the majority of Americans have had COVID very comforting. Given that right now scientists don’t fully know all the long term effects, that the not-uncommon lingering effects they DO know about are scary (changes in organs, including the heart and lungs, increased risk of children with no family history of diabetes developing diabetes not long after they recover, etc) plus long COVID leaving formerly healthy active people debilitated or disabled? The impacts on society, on healthcare, financial stability I can’t even imagine.

    In the US I’m thinking of our already precarious safety nets, like how SS, Medicare are projected to have funding shortfalls as the US population ages, with more people drawing benefits and fewer working and contributing just based on demographics. Add a mass disabling event that knocks younger people out of the workforce, so they are drawing benefits for months, years instead of contributing, and that financial day of reckoning is going to come sooner.

    Not to mention just the sadness of so much looming suffering. Maybe most won’t have long term effects, but the ones who do already describe it as life altering and no fun.

    • Normades says:

      Yea, I don’t find that comforting either. It just says to me the new variants are more and more contagious. And like you said we don’t know the lasting effects of long Covid or what variants will come in the future.

  6. Gutterflower says:

    2 of my 3 kids had it (13 and 10), both double vaxed. They were just really tired for about a week, no other symptoms. Somehow my unvaxed 4 year old has avoided it thankfully, as have myself and my husband.

    • Lucy says:

      My 8 year old is the only one who tested positive out of the four of us, and she had a headache and sore throat for a day and that was it. Her 5 year old sister had symptoms for one night, but never tested positive. They were double vaccinated three weeks before. I’m so hopeful that we won’t have to keep doing all this.

  7. Normades says:

    We are all vaxed and boosted. Most everyone here is except kids under 12. My 11 year old is but most of her friends are not and many of them have gotten Covid (some twice). Question for people with medical knowledge: what is the difference in anti body protection from someone who has had Covid and someone who is vaccinated and has not?

  8. Eve says:

    People are indeed stupid, aren’t they? It’s f*cking unbelievable!!!

    I’ve had my two shots, am waiting for the booster and still practice social distancing, wear masks indoors/outdoors and always wash my hands/use alcohol gel sanitizer.

  9. AuntRara says:

    I’m so terrified of long Covid, I’m finding it really disabling. My little pod has been careful this whole time but is now eating out at restaurants and socializing with friends and it makes me feel like it’s not safe for me to see them now, either. Guess I’m going to be alone forever in this condo, getting my groceries curbside. Sigh.

  10. Lululu says:

    I’ve had it twice, first at the very beginning of the pandemic. One of my best friends worked in the nursing home here in the Seattle area that had the first big outbreak, she gave it to me before the WHO even declared a pandemic. I was SO sick…for six weeks. Lung and sinus problems lingered for months, and I’ve never fully regained my sense of smell.

    Had it again in January this year, after two vaccine doses and a booster. I’m also now immune compromised because the first round of Covid flared my autoimmune arthritis up so bad I’ve had to go on some heavy duty immune suppressing meds. I was in bed for 3-4 days, and tested negative after 5. Thank god for vaccines.

    • Chicken says:

      My boyfriend is also immune compromised, and he also got it in January. He had mild cold symptoms, a slight fever, but his main symptoms were exhaustion and brain fog, lasted about a week and then he was OK (vaxxed and boosted).

  11. faithmobile says:

    Curious about international flights, we made plans to fly to Italy in September with our kids, one who is too young to be vaccinated but if people aren’t masking on planes and there still isn’t a vaccine for under 5 year olds we will have to reschedule our vacation.

  12. Tired Momma says:

    I had a second baby in the pandemic (Aug 2020) so we’ve been really cautious, and even avoided daycare until two toddlers became too much to juggle while WFH. They were tested SO many times, poor little kids. During the omicron waves we were notified our toddlers teacher was positive, and she almost immediately started coughing. A few days later her breathing had deteriorated to the point we took her in for breathing treatments (similar to croup) and thankfully, she responded really well and we were sent home. The ER doctor was EXHAUSTED and told us to assume we had COVID. We all ended up getting sick, but somehow never tested positive (including multiple doctor administered tests on our kids and a few home tests). It was nerve wracking then to think we had COVID, but hoping that was it for us and we got through it does bring me some peace of mind.