RadioOnFire.com – Federal health authorities said Tuesday they now expect a wider spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and are preparing for a potential pandemic, though they remain unsure about how severe the health threat could be.
Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday the agency expects a sustained transmission of the virus and called for businesses, schools and communities to brace themselves and plan for potential outbreaks.
“We expect we will see community spread in this country,” meaning the virus circulating within local communities, said Dr. Messonnier. She added that the question isn’t if the virus will expand in the U.S., but when.
In the U.S., 14 locally diagnosed cases have been confirmed, with an additional 40 from the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Asia and three among Americans who returned from China aboard U.S.-chartered flights.
So far, American public-health systems have sought to contain the virus by isolating confirmed cases while monitoring close contacts of these patients for signs of infection. This strategy is most effective when the case count is relatively low and each case can be epidemiologically linked to each other and traced to an original source, health authorities say. That is the current situation with the confirmed U.S. cases.