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Researchers say 17% of Americans - 55 million people - have been infected with COVID-19

Researchers say the actual number of Americans infected with coronavirus is more than double the official case count as a viral outbreak has been reported among Capitol Police and National Guard personnel in Washington, DC.

According to a new model by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, approximately 17 per cent of the population in the United States has been infected with COVID-19.

That estimate is significantly higher than official government data which indicates that just 7 per cent of Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

According to a new model by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, approximately 17 per cent of the population in the United States - which amounts to more than 55 million people - has been infected with COVID-19

The IHME estimates that by May 1 the cumulative death count in the United States will reach nearly 569,000 people

But the IHME also estimates that the daily death toll will drop due to the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine

IHME researchers say that the daily infection rate will also fall significantly by the springtime if current vaccine rollout projections hold

As of Sunday, nearly 25.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Of those, more than 418,000 have died.

If the IHME estimates are accurate, the actual number of Americans who have been infected with the coronavirus is more than 55 million.

The IHME model assumes that the current testing fails to detect all COVID-19 cases present in the population.

The latest data also indicates a drop in the number of daily reported cases. In the last week, there were 211,600 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 per day - a drop from 243,500 from the week before.

But the number of daily deaths in the last week has climbed - from 3,160 per day two weeks ago to 3,240 per day last week.

Meanwhile, the union representing Capitol Police officers says that at least 38 officers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the January 6 MAGA riot. Capitol Police officers are seen above at the Capitol on January 8

Troops are seen above outside the Capitol on Monday. Up to 200 National Guard members deployed to Washington DC have tested positive for COVID-19, sparking fears that the protection put in place after the Capitol riot led to a 'superspreader' event

National Guard troops sleep on the grass on the eastern front of the US Capitol Thursday

Members of the National Guard rest in the Capitol Visitors Center. Nearly 26,000 troops were sent to the Capitol from all 50 states following the January 6 insurrection

IHME researchers are predicting that the total death count in the US will reach 569,000 on May 1 - or about 151,000 more cumulative deaths from January 19 until May 1.

The model predicts that daily deaths will likely stay relatively stable at around 3,250 per day on average until early February.

Estimates als find that 42,800 lives will be saved by the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. A rapid rollout would save 52,400 lives that would otherwise be lost if there were no vaccine.

A rapid rollout targeting high-risk populations would result in the saving of 59,800 lives, according to IHME researchers.

Meanwhile, more than three dozen Capitol Police officers have tested positive for coronavirus since the January 6 MAGA riot.

A police union representative told CNN on Sunday that 38 officers have been infected with COVID-19, though it is unclear how many of them were on duty during the assault.

At least four Democratic lawmakers said they tested positive for COVID-19 after the mob attack. 

Democrats blamed Republicans for not wearing masks while sheltering in secure areas on January 6, as violent supporters of Republican President Donald Trump stormed the building.

But only Democrats have reported testing positive as a result of the emergency so far. 

Meanwhile, up to 200 National Guard members deployed to the nation's capital have also tested positive for COVID-19, sparking fears that the protection put in place after the Capitol riot led to a 'superspreader' event. 

Three National Guard sources told Politico that over 100 troops have tested positive while several hundred more are currently in quarantine in hotels after showing symptoms or being exposed to the virus.

Reuters then reported between 150 and 200 had tested positive, according to an anonymous US official. 

The insiders have described a failure by the National Guard to implement coronavirus testing and social distancing protocols evenly across the board, with some troops not being tested on arrival, some receiving only temperature checks and some told to cut short quarantine or skip it entirely in order to report for duty.     

The full scale of the problem is not yet known as the Guard has not confirmed the number of infections or which states' troops have been struck by outbreaks.

But it comes after shocking pictures showed up to 5,000 Guardsmen sleeping on the floor of a packed parking garage Thursday night.

Nearly 26,000 troops were sent to the Capitol from all 50 states following the January 6 insurrection to support Capitol police in guarding the seat of American democracy and President Joe Biden's inauguration from attack.  

Thousands of troops have already started returning to their home states with just 10,600 troops still on duty in the Capitol.   

It is also not clear how many troops have already left DC or whether they were tested before their departure, amid concerns that - if infected - the virus could spread like wildfire nationwide as the troops return to their home states.

One Guard member told Politico most of the infections came from the units' home stations and have been recorded among asymptomatic people.

They said leadership had tried to set up a comprehensive plan to test all troops on arrival and before they return home. 

But several members said units were provided with no clear guidance on testing before coming to DC, on arrival or for when they return to their home states. 

One National Guard member told Politico they were not tested for COVID-19 when they arrived at the Capitol and were straight away packed in 'like sardines' altogether.

'Right after the holidays they packed us together like sardines in buses and rooms for this,' the Guard member said. 

Two members of the Guard also said several units were not offered testing. 

They said they only underwent temperature checks and were asked questions about whether they had been exposed to the virus. 

Others were forced to go out to try to find their own tests, one Washington DC member told the outlet.   

As well as a lack of testing, sources spoke of an inability to social distance and poor compliance with CDC quarantine rules. 

One guardsman told the outlet troops who were exposed to the virus through their colleagues were told not to bother quarantining or to cut it short because they were needed on duty.

The CDC recommends people exposed to the virus quarantine even after a negative test because tests may not detect the virus in the first few days of infection.

This guidance was 'completely disregarded,' the Guard member said. 

Another guard member said it was 'almost impossible' for troops to practice social distancing while on duty in the halls of Congress, the DC armory and the parking garages. 

Another described the scenes like a 'sitcom' with so little space that they were forced to 'scavenge' for space in hallways. 

'You should have seen late-coming states scavenge for space,' they said.

'It would have made a great sitcom: people literally making offices out of hallways and any unoccupied space.'     

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