CDC Expects ‘Community Spread’ of Novel Coronavirus in United States
Feb. 25, 2020 (EIRNS)— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects the novel coronavirus to begin to spread at a community level in the United States. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told reporters on a half-hour conference call today.
Messonnier said, “As we have seen from recent countries with community spread, when it has hit those countries, it has moved quite rapidly. We want to make sure the American public is prepared.”
There have been 14 cases of the virus diagnosed in the U.S., all people who either traveled to China recently, or were close contacts of those who did. Another 39 U.S. residents have been infected in other parts of the world before coming back to the U.S. and being quarantined. But CDC officials say the country could soon see more cases, as the virus starts to spread through communities in areas outside China, including Iran, South Korea and Italy.
The CDC has urged American businesses and families to start preparing for the possibility of a bigger outbreak. Messonnier said parents should ask their children’s schools about plans for closures. Businesses should consider telecommuting options for employees, while hospitals might need to look at expanding telehealth services. “Disruption to everyday life might be severe,” Messonnier said.
She said the CDC is also discussing whether to change the case definition that triggers a sick patient to be tested for the virus. Currently health officials recommend testing only for people who have respiratory symptoms and have recently traveled to China, or been in close contact with someone who was infected. But as community spread increases in other countries, the case definition could change, she said.