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Ohio official was 'guesstimating' statement that 100,000 people have coronavirus

The director of Ohio's Department of Health said Friday her statement the previous day that 100,000 people in the state currently have coronavirus was based on "guesstimating," casting doubt on the high number.

"I am not saying there are absolutely for certain 100,000 people, I'm saying I'm guesstimating," the director, Dr. Amy Acton, said at a news conference.

Acton had drawn attention on Thursday when she said at a press conference alongside Gov. Mike DeWine (R) that she estimated there are already 100,000 people in Ohio with coronavirus, based on the fact that the virus is spreading in the community.

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"We know now, just the fact of community spread, says that at least 1 percent, at the very least, 1 percent of our population is carrying this virus in Ohio today," Acton said then. "We have 11.7 million people. So the math is over 100,000. So that just gives you a sense of how this virus spreads and is spreading quickly."

She also noted that the lack of widespread testing means that officials do not know for sure.

Tara Smith, a professor of public health at Kent State University, said Friday she thinks Acton's number is “too high,” but said that there could be 1,000 undetected cases in Ohio right now.

On Friday at the press conference, Acton said once there is better data, modelers would go back and see if she was right.

"As modelers far smarter than I am put that together, we'll look back at this and we'll see where we were," she said.

More than 1,800 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the U.S. as of Friday, according to The New York Times, while at least 41 people have died.