President Trump held a press conference Wednesday evening following a disturbing announcement from the CDC: the coronavirus is coming to the United States.
Live updates confirm more than 81,000 cases worldwide, but reports suggest the outbreak in China may be up to 10 times worse than officials are reporting.
On Tuesday, officials from the CDC warned parents to anticipate school closures and other “significant disruptions” to everyday life.
Dr. Nancy Messonier, head of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, urged businesses to anticipate using telephone or video conferences instead of in-person meetings and said that hospitals might consider adding more Telehealth services.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more, but a question of when this will happen,” said Messonier. “Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools, and everyday people to begin preparing.”
The CDC’s grim warning coincided with the Democratic primary debate in South Carolina, during which several candidates criticized the Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19.
President Trump said his Administration was “doing a great job” and predicted the Democrats would call his Administration “incompetent” even if the virus “disappeared tomorrow.”
In the meantime, experts at the National Institutes of Health are preparing to conduct clinical trials for a vaccine.
“We need to be able to think about how we will respond to a pandemic outbreak,” says Dr. Fauci, an infectious disease specialist at the NIH. “It’s very clear. If we have a global pandemic, no country is going to be without impact.”
A clinical trial does not mean you have a vaccine, added Fauci. “In order to get a vaccine that’s practically deployable for people to use…it’s going to be a year to a year and a half at best.”
The term “pandemic” refers to a disease that continues to spread from person to person in multiple areas of the world simultaneously.
“Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely, it has,” says WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”
Author’s Note: Everyone expected China to lie about this and we were impressed when they appeared to come clean about COVID-19 in January. Now that we know China was lying, doctors throughout the world will need to adjust their strategies and gather additional resources to prevent a pandemic.
And let’s not forget that Wuhan – the center of the outbreak – is home to two major bioweapons laboratories. These are the same labs now leading research and prevention efforts.
If it turns out COVID-19 escaped from one of these labs, all hell will break loose.