Officials with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned Americans on Tuesday that it’s now a matter of when, not if, coronavirus — or COVID-19, as it’s officially known — starts spreading in the United States, ABC News reports. Health authorities say that the collective failures of Italy, Iran, and South Korea are all evidence that preventing the virus from entering a country is now next to impossible.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, was unambiguous with her words about the subject at a Tuesday news conference.
“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” she said, warning Americans to prepare for the arrival of the virus.
What are those preparations?
For individuals, that means practicing standard precautions that you would do to prevent the transmission of the cold, flu, or any other germ; that is, frequent hand-washing with soap and water and staying home from work or school when sick. People who have the ability to work from home, rather than go to work, should plan to do so, as should children who can get their education via “teleschooling.” Hospitals should be going over their infectious-disease containment systems and getting those procedures into place.
At a government level, it seems that those decisions will have to be made on a case-by-case basis, as systems that work in areas where there is already a “community spread” — that is, where patients with the virus are known to have spread it to other patients in the community — won’t work in areas where there is no community spread.
So far, there has been no community spread of the virus in the United States, as of this writing.
There are, however, 57 active cases of the virus in the United States. Of those cases, 43 were people either repatriated from Wuhan, China, or from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Another 14 cases have also been detected in the U.S. In only one case has one American spread the disease to another American, and that transmission was between two members of the same household.
The CDC’s dire warning about the inevitability of the virus reaching the U.S. and spreading here stands in sharp contrast to the narrative of the Trump administration, which continues to insist that the risk of the virus becoming a problem here “remains low.”
Still, the administration has requested $1.25 billion in emergency funding, which would be used to develop vaccines, procure supplies, and “support preparedness and response activities.”