According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), the U.S. needs to prepare for a spread of the coronavirus across the country. As per a media brief recently, a spokesperson for the organization stated that there is “not a question” around if a spread of the illness will occur, but more of exactly “when” it will happen, and how many Americans it could affect.
So far, the United States has taken measures to contain the coronavirus by restricting travel from and to China (the area of outbreak), as well as contain cases identified; however, there is evidence that the condition is spreading to nations outside the infected area (e.g. Italy and Iran), and this has raised the level of concern for the CDC around a potential spread in the U.S.
As of this week, close to 100 cases have been reported in Iran; over 300 in Italy.
Fifty-seven Americans have been diagnosed with the illness, where many were among the passengers of the cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, which ended with the virus spreading among passengers. It ended up being docked in Japan.
According to the CDC, those in the United State need to prepare for the potential around disruptions in their day-to-day lives if the coronavirus began spreading across the country. This could mean working from home, school closures, and delay in elective medical processes.
The illness spreads from individual to individual via sneezes and coughing. The thought around decreasing risk is staying a minimum of six feet away from other people. At a recent news conference, Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, recently relayed that while the immediate risk to Americans is low, the possibility of this could change rather quickly.
Azar also stated that the travel restrictions that have been put in place as of early February of this year seemed to have played a key part in keeping coronavirus cases at a minimum in the U.S., and he added that there are no intentions of easing this. He also noted that the spread within communities in countries outside of China is quite “concerning”.
With that said, the fact that new cases of the illness in China are declining is hopeful, and clearly shows that the virus can be contained, this according to Dr. Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization (WHO); however, other nations need to act quickly if they want to control the spread of coronavirus. Aylward notes a shift in mindset.
Preparations would include hospitals focusing on resources that could count the most when it comes to keeping vulnerable sufferers alive; beds that isolate patients from others; ventilators to help with breathing; as well as a good supply of equipment that will protect healthcare workers (i.e. masks, gloves, gowns).
Recently, Trump’s Administration requested $2.5 billion from Congress to contain and battle the spread of coronavirus. Most of it would be placed towards a vaccine, with clinical trials beginning within weeks of approval. Some of the money would also go towards an increase in public health surveillance systems to help source any unusual respiratory illnesses, and testing around the virus, which is also being conducted by the CDC currently.