Coronavirus spread in US inevitable, may disrupt daily life: Key takeaways from CDC briefing

U.S. residents should expect community spread of the novel coronavirus, a top CDC official warned Feb. 25.   

"Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country," said Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but when and how many people in this country will have severe illness."  

Other key takeaways from Dr. Messonnier: 

1. Cases of community spread, or cases appearing without a known source of exposure, have been identified in Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.  

2. So far, the COVID-19 outbreak has met two of three characteristics defining a pandemic. The virus has resulted in death, and cases of human transmission have been confirmed. However, there has not yet been worldwide spread of the virus.  

3. The current U.S. quarantine is meant to slow the introduction of disease to the nation.

4. "Disruption to everyday life might be severe," Dr. Messonnier said. Hospitals may have to triage patients differently, delay elective surgeries and use telehealth strategies to prevent the spread of the virus.

5. The CDC will continue efforts to both contain the disease and minimize its effect on communities. Non-pharmaceutical intervention is the most important strategy at this time, and will vary by community.

The Dow hit record lows, dropping 900 points — more than 3 percent — after the CDC made its announcement, CNBC reports.

As of 2 p.m., Feb. 25, the novel coronavirus has sickened 80,407 and has resulted in 2,708 deaths. The CDC has confirmed 53 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of Feb. 24. 

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