SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Officials with the World Health Organization say it’s still too early to declare the novel coronavirus a pandemic, but that now is the time to prepare.
“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” a CDC official said.
Doctor Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told media that while the virus isn’t spreading very rapidly through the US right nowm, “it’s very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen,” according to CNN.
She says the goal continues to be slowing the introduction of the virus into the United States.
“We really want to prepare the American public for the possibility that their lives will be disrupted because of this pandemic,” Dr. Messonnier said, the New York Times reports.
Parents should prepare to talk to their children’s schools about contingency education and that schools should consider using “internet-based tele-schooling,” Dr. Messonnier added.
For working adults, she said that businesses “can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options.”
Cities and communities may need to “modify, postpone, or cancel mass gatherings,” according to CNBC. Dr. Messonier said hospitals may need to triage patients differently, delay elective surgery, and add more tele-health services.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has remained publicly optimistic about the virus. Speaking in India, he called the coronavirus “a problem that’s going to go away.”
The death toll from the coronavirus is now more than 2,700 worldwide, with the vast majority in mainland China.
There are more than 80,000 global cases, with more than 50 cases reported in the US.
The Trump administration on Monday sent lawmakers an urgent $2.5 billion plan to address the coronavirus, saying the funds are needed for vaccines, treatment and protective equipment.
The request was released Monday evening and came as key government accounts were running low.
The Department of Health and Human Services had already tapped into an emergency infectious disease rapid response fund and was seeking to transfer more than $130 million from other HHS accounts to combat the virus but is pressing for more.
The administration is requesting $1.25 billion in new funding and wants to transfer $535 million more in funding from an Ebola preparedness account that’s been a top priority of Democrats.
It anticipates shifting money from other HHS accounts and other agencies to complete the $2.5 billion response plan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.