FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 02, 2020
U.S. officials have a more urgent tone about coronavirus outlook here
What's the latest status? Share a new fact and a quote about the situation in America or abroad.
Can you find local reactions or an impact in your state?
How do you think this newspaper is covering the virus: too much attention, not enough or about right?
The fast-moving coronavirus that has been in the news for two months no longer seems like a far-away problem. The respiratory disease, which can lead to pneumonia, has infected more than 87,000 people in at least 65 countries and killed more than 3,000. The World Health Organization raised its risk assessment to "very high" last Friday, the highest level before declaring a global pandemic (uncontrolled outbreak). It began in China, but the highly contagious new disease – pronounced corr-OH-nah-virus – has spread to other parts of Asia, as well as to Europe and the United States – with 88 cases are reported here by the start of this week. That number could rise, warns a federal agency called the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
"We expect we will see community spread in this country. It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, head of an immunization and respiratory diseases center, told the media last week. "We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad. … Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing."
"The disruption of daily life might be severe, warned the government doctor. She suggested a possible need eventually for schools to dividing students into smaller groups or to close and use “internet-based tele-schooling." Office workers "can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options" to avoid spreading the virus, Messonnier added.
The next day, President Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to help coordinate the government response. "We’re very, very ready for this," Trump said at the White House. "You don't want to see panic, because there's no reason to be panicked." Also last week, cabinet member Alex Azar – secretary of health and human services – told a Senate subcommittee: "This is an unprecedented potentially severe health challenge globally. . . . We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus, and we need to be realistic about that." There's no vaccine yet, and the World Health Organization calls it a global public health emergency.
The Trump administration last week asked Congress for $2.5 billion in emergency funding to address the situation, and indicated it expects to request more later. Economic impacts are extensive and large. A Chinese government order for people to stay home has slowed or stopped production of goods there, affecting supplies for U.S. manufacturers and merchants. Many Chinese manufacturers and other companies have scaled back or shut temporarily because the government orders people to stay home. In this country, serious stock market declines took place last week, particularly after the CDC warned "this might be bad." China appears to be limiting the epidemic there, with a drop in the rate of new infections. But that good news is overshadowed by new clusters of infections in Iran, South Korea and Italy.
Federal doctor says: "There are things that people need to start thinking about now. You should think about what you would do for child care if schools or day cares closed." -- Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
World Health Organization says: "This is a reality check for every government on the planet. Wake up. Get ready. This virus may be on its way." – Dr. Michael J. Ryan, deputy director
Senator says: "To prevent overreaction by the public, it is essential that the federal officials, especially the president and vice president, level with the American people. Telling the American people the truth — and then coming up with solutions to solve it — is the way to calm people down. . . . So let's let the science and the facts guide us." – Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
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