CDC: Coronavirus Outbreak Is ‘Inevitable,’ Americans Should Prepare For ‘Disruptions’
The Centers for Disease Control issued a “strong warning” about the potential spread of coronavirus, suggesting that they now believe it is a question of “when” and not “if” there will be an outbreak in the United States and warning Americans to be prepared for possible “disruptions” to daily life, according to ABC News.
The CDC noted that the threat to Americans “remains low” and that they are urging precautions not panic, and to channel any concern they might have about COVID-19, known as “coronavirus,” despite being one of many “corona viruses,” into “preparing for its arrival.”
At one point in time, U.S. health officials said, the United States hoped it might be able to curb “community spread” in-country by screening travelers at the borders and in airports as they enter the U.S. from affected countries. Now, though, because of rapidly spreading outbreaks in South Korea, Italy, and Iran, health officials believe it may simply be a question of “when” there is an outbreak in the U.S., not “if.”
“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” the, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, said Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” she added. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”
The CDC’s suggested precautions are standard for the agency, ABC News adds. The CDC urges a three-step “non-pharmaceutical intervention” plan: “Americans should continue to practice protective measures — hand-washing, staying home from work when sick — while local officials should make sure systems are in place — teleschooling, working remotely — should face-to-face interactions need to be reduced. Health care facilities should be prepared to increase telehealth systems and delay elective surgeries should the need arise.”
But while the threat of a coronavirus outbreak may be looming, it does not appear, according to the CDC, to be imminent. There are, as yet, no restrictions on either domestic or foreign travel, and the CDC is not suggesting Americans avoid large gatherings or places where diseases spread, like public transportation.
The White House also issued a statement on coronavirus Tuesday, noting that they’ve asked for $1.25 billion to address any potential needs that may arise. Democrats, taking advantage of potential panic to stoke distrust in the White House, called the measure “long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency,” though they did not present any competing requests.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaking on the issue, hit out at the White House for leaving “critical positions in charge of managing pandemics at the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security vacant.”
She and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also attacked Trump for “defunding” the CDC in the White House’s proposed Federal budget and redirecting funding for programs designed to fight Ebola, which has not sickened anyone in the United States in years, to programs designed to confront coronavirus.
“That President Trump is trying to steal funds dedicated to fight Ebola — which is still considered an epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — is indicative of his towering incompetence and further proof that he and his administration aren’t taking the coronavirus crisis as seriously as they need to be,” Schumer said in a confusing statement.
Around 80,000 people have been sickened with the virus worldwide, in 34 countries, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch. Most coronavirus patients live in China, where around 3,000 people have died. A full 83% of those affected come from a single area of China, Hubei province, home to Wuhan, ground zero of the epidemic.
There have been 227 confirmed cases of the disease — and six deaths — in Italy. The United States has had 57 confirmed cases, 40 of which were travelers rescued from a cruise ship that suffered its own coronavirus outbreak.