The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking steps to help prevent the possible spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States and prepare for an outbreak here, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a call with reporters on Wednesday.
“Most of the disease is in China, however, we can and should be prepared for this new virus to gain a foothold in the US. The goal of the measures we have taken to date are to slow the introduction and impact of this disease in the United States, but at some point we are likely to see community spread in the US or other countries and this will trigger a change in our response strategy,” Messonnier said during the call.
“This will require the effort of all levels of government, the public health system and our communities as we face these challenges together,” Messonnier said. “One important aspect of this is taking steps to make sure there are enough supplies and appropriate guidance to prevent spread of the disease, especially among health care personnel caring for patients.”
Some of the steps the CDC has taken include speaking regularly with manufacturers of medical supplies, including personal protective equipment or PPE, such as face masks, to make sure that enough supplies are available in case they are needed.
“CDC does not currently recommend the use of face masks for the general public. This virus is not spreading in the community,” Messonnier said.
But in an effort to make sure enough supplies are available in case of an outbreak in the United States, “CDC talks regularly with health care industry partners as well as PPE manufacturers and distributors to assess availability of PPE. At this time, some partners are reporting higher than usual demand for select N95 respirators and face masks,” Messonnier said.
Confirmed cases in the US: There are 13 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the United States, including seven in California, two in Illinois, one in Arizona, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state and one in Wisconsin. This includes two instances of known person-to-person transmission – one in California and one in Illinois.