Local doctor explains why finding out how many asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers there are is complicated

As the national focus of the coronavirus pandemic turns to testing and recovery, there is also growing discussion about how many people may be carrying the virus but show no symptoms at all.
As the national focus of the coronavirus pandemic turns to testing and recovery, there is also growing discussion about how many people may be carrying the virus but show no symptoms at all.

One of the driving forces behind promoting physical distancing is to discourage close contact with someone who does not know that they're infected with COVID-19.

Dr. Anthony Cardillo with Mend Urgent Care in Sherman Oaks says there aren't enough tests in the U.S. to nail down just many of those cases there are across the country.

Cardillo points to data out of Iceland, where 10% of the population was tested. Half of those people turned out to be positive but were asymptomatic.

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"We probably don't have enough tests right now. It's sort of like do we have enough tests to test for any illness right now, to test the whole population? The answer is no," he said.

Although testing is important, Cardillo says nothing should be rushed.

"I think (erring) on the side of caution is a lot safer, because if we were to come too fast out of the gate and start releasing tests that are unreliable, it'd be a whole other set of circumstances."

Aside from testing, many people are wondering if California is nearing the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak. Several models have predicted that day will be reached sometime this week. Other prediction models have predicted a nationwide peak in May.

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A University of Washington website tracking COVID-19 cases in California predicted hospitalizations to peak Monday at 5,238 beds being used.

That estimate is fairly consistent with the actual number of hospitalizations on April 11, which came to 5,234 according to the California Health Department. Fortunately, neither number is close to the more than 26,000 beds now available in California.

Other medical professionals have stressed the difficulty in predicting such things due to the flexibility of the pandemic. Either way, Cardillo says we seem to be in good shape.

"If it is pushed out to May, I think it's kind of a good thing also because it gives us another month to prepare and we're ready for any surge that may happen."
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