Americans who’ve not yet experienced the direct effects of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak that originated in China’s central Hubei province will be forced to take notice soon.
“Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools, and everyday people to begin preparing,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told media outlets today, according to quotes published by CNBC. “Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country.”
This warning arguably clashes with recent comments from President Trump, who told his Twitter followers on Monday that the “coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.” This week, the White House requested $2.5 billion in funding from Congress to fight the virus’s spread.
The CDC director’s message for Americans was not a call for panic, nor for harmful profiling and prejudice. Instead, Messonnier focused on preparing for “significant disruption”:
“I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may be severe. But these are things that people need to start thinking about now. You should think about what you would do for child care if schools or day cares closed.”
The disruptive effects of the outbreak also may affect the summer games in Tokyo, as the International Olympic Committee weighs whether it’s safe to proceed with the event. Dick Pound, a senior member of the committee, indicated the decision needs to be made by May in an interview with the Associated Press. The games will either be hosted or canceled, Pound said: “You just don’t postpone something on the size and scale of the Olympics. . . . You can’t just say, ‘We’ll do it in October.'”
There were 76,936 reported coronavirus cases in mainland China as of February 23, according to a CDC statement released on Tuesday. So far, the CDC has identified a total of 53 cases in the United States, including 14 cases diagnosed within U.S. borders and 39 cases among people brought home from “high-risk settings.”