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Most Americans have been infected with the COVID-19 virus, the CDC reports

People arrive at a Covid-19 testing station in Houston, Texas, to receive a Covid test on January 7, 2022. - With pharmacies running out of self-tests and long lines at Covid-19 testing centers, Texans are rushing to get tested as the state experiences an unprecedented spike in infections from the Omicron variant. "We sold out this morning," says a salesman at the Walgreen's drugstore chain near Houston, Texas' most populous city, when asked for Covid self-tests. "You can come back in six days," he says. (Photo by Francois PICARD / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS PICARD/AFP via Getty Images)
People arrive at a Covid-19 testing station in Houston, Texas, to receive a Covid test on January 7, 2022. - With pharmacies running out of self-tests and long lines at Covid-19 testing centers, Texans are rushing to get tested as the state experiences an unprecedented spike in infections from the Omicron variant. "We sold out this morning," says a salesman at the Walgreen's drugstore chain near Houston, Texas' most populous city, when asked for Covid self-tests. "You can come back in six days," he says. (Photo by Francois PICARD / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS PICARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Most people in the United States, including most children, have now been infected with the coronavirus, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At a briefing for reporters on Tuesday, the CDC's Dr. Kristie Clarke said so many people caught omicron over the winter that almost 60% of everyone in the U.S. now have antibodies to the virus in their blood.

That number is even higher for children — almost 75% of children 11 and younger have antibodies to the virus.

Clarke said the finding means many people have at least some immunity to the virus. But CDC officials stressed that people should still get vaccinated, because vaccination provides the strongest, broadest protection against getting seriously ill. Immunity provided by previous infection may or may not be as protective against severe disease.

The CDC also said that cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, going up 23% last week to 44,416 a day. Deaths continue a months-long decline to 314 a day, or 13% less than the week before. Hospitalizations are on the uptick at 1,629 a day, up 7% over the previous week, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

About 1.5% of the U.S. population lives in communities where there is a high prevalence of COVID at the present time, with 6.5% in medium prevalence areas and the rest (92%) in communities with low levels of COVID.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.