It’s time for Americans to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this week, according to the Daily Caller.
“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” the CDC told The New York Times of the spread of COVID-19, the official name for the coronavirus disease that has ravaged China and other countries around the globe in recent weeks.
The government agency added that it’s a matter of when, not if, the virus will spread throughout the United States.
CDC issues warning
There are 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infecting Americans, most of which are confined to travelers who returned from a Japanese cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, and China, the epicenter of the outbreak, according to Business Insider. But as the virus continues to spread in countries like Iran and Italy, the CDC is warning Americans to expect domestic spread soon.
“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,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on Tuesday, according to NBC News.
The agency told Americans to prepare for “disruptions” that have one core solution: isolation. Americans should make arrangements to work from home if possible and stock up on food and supplies, they said.
A crisis for Trump?
There are currently some 80,000 cases of the virus worldwide, with more than 2,000 deaths — and the outbreak is having political and cultural ramifications around the world. In Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of “fake news” affecting next week’s elections, but has stopped shaking hands with supporters. Meanwhile, Ash Wednesday services were changed or disrupted at churches around the world, according to the Associated Press.
In the U.S., COVID-19 is quickly becoming a crisis for President Donald Trump. The president has been criticized by some for appearing to downplay the threat — he has insisted that the virus is “under control” — as the world economy, and stock indexes, suffer shocks from global anxiety.
The coronavirus even came up during Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate in South Carolina, where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders slammed the “great genius” Trump for his inadequate response. Trump is asking for $2.5 billion for research into the disease, according to the AP, but Democrats have asked for much more.
Preparing for the worst
San Francisco has already declared a state of emergency to prepare for the outbreak, although there are no cases of the disease there yet, The Hill reported. Meanwhile, there are now more new cases of the coronavirus outside China than inside the country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said recently, according to the New York Post.
But President Trump has complained that the media is stoking market panic, accusing MSNBC and CNN in a tweet Wednesday morning of trying to make the disease “look as bad as possible.” He will hold a press conference Wednesday evening to address the crisis, NBC News reported.