Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. (Photo: AP)
Washington (People’s Daily) -- Americans should brace for the likelihood that the coronavirus will spread to communities in the United States and prepare for severe disruption to everyday life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday.
“Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” said Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the United States had risen to 57 by Tuesday morning, Dr Messonnier told reporters. These cases include 40 people who were repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 3 people repatriated from Wuhan, China and 14 US cases.
Dr Messonnier said coronavirus has met some of the criteria for a pandemic-caused illness including illness that has resulted in death and sustained person-to-person spread and is "moving closer" toward meeting the third criteria - worldwide spread.
US health officials warn that as more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at US borders becomes harder and harder.
Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services delivered an equally sobering message on Tuesday. As the New York Times reported, he told a Senate committee, “We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus and we need to be realistic about that.”
The paper also noted that Azar said federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for healthcare workers and additional ventilators for hospitals to prepare for a major outbreak of coronavirus.