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University of Miami says COVID infections in Miami-Dade could be 20x higher than official stats

Over 200,000 residents may have already contracted by the disease.

Published: April 25, 2020 2:09pm

Updated: April 25, 2020 2:31pm

Researchers at the University of Miami said this week that preliminary tests indicate as many as 221,000 residents of Miami-Dade County may have already been infected by the coronavirus, a rate 20 times greater than the current official tally of infections. 

Scientists from the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the university's Miller School of Medicine revealed in a virtual meeting on Friday that a county-wide COVID-19 survey, which followed 1,400 participants over a two-week period, indicated that at least 4.4 percent, and as much as 7.9 percent of the county, could have already contracted the coronavirus. 

That is a substantially larger number than the official data set logged by the state of Florida, which on Saturday afternoon had recorded just over 11,000 infections in Miami-Dade County, far and away the most out of any county in the state. Miami-Dade is the most populous county in Florida, with over 2.6 million residents. 

The new numbers would also significantly drive down the county's COVID-19 fatality rate, which with 295 deaths officially stands at around two percent. At the upper bound of the researchers' new estimates, the death rate would fall to around 0.1 percent, roughly in line with that of the seasonal flu. 

The results from the university study echo similar findings from recent experiments in California, Massachusetts, Sweden and elsewhere, all of which have indicated that the coronavirus may be vastly more widespread, and consequently less fatal, than earlier estimates and official numbers have indicated. 

They also suggest that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was correct when earlier this month he argued that "whoever tests positive for [coronavirus] is probably just a small fraction of those who have actually had it."

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