The Centers for Disease Control is warning Americans to prepare for the possibility of a severe disruption of their lives as a result of a coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said Tuesday that the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. is "not so much of a question of if" but rather "a question of when," The New York Times reports.
Messonnier also told Americans they should "prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," saying schools may need to use "internet-based teleschooling," business may need to use "video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options," and communities might have to "modify, postpone, or cancel mass gatherings," CNBC reports.
"Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools, and everyday people to begin preparing," she said. "I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may be severe. But these are things that people need to start thinking about now." Messonnier also explained that she has told her family they "ought to be preparing for significant disruption to our lives."
Health officials also briefed members of Congress about the coronavirus threat on Tuesday, after which Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said, per The Washington Post, that lawmakers were warned there's a "very strong chance of an extremely serious outbreak of the coronavirus here in the United States." More than 50 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. Meanwhile, President Trump has downplayed the threat, saying on Tuesday, "I think that whole situation will start working out."