SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- It's time to prepare for the coronavirus.

365体育投注The novel coronavirus from China has sickened tens of thousands there and others around the globe with a dangerous respiratory illness known as COVID-19, which has killed more than 2,700, so far all in China.

365体育投注As of Wednesday, there were 15 confirmed cases in the U.S. not related to those repatriated from China and those from the disease-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship. But the virus' widespread arrival in the country is just a matter of time, a top federal health official warned this week.

365体育投注People in the U.S. should prepare themselves and their families for the virus' spread, a top official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, , said in a Tuesday, Feb. 25, teleconference.

365体育投注COVID-19 is popping up in new countries and it's not clear how the new patients caught the virus, making it harder to keep it from spreading further, including into the U.S., she said.

“I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may seem severe, but these are things that people need to start thinking about now," Messonnier said.

Here's what she recommended people can do now to prepare for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and what might happen if the coronavirus spreads to communities across the country.

What you can do now

  • Convert concern into calm preparation: “I want to recognize that people are concerned about this situation. I would say rightfully so. I’m concerned about this situation, CDC is concerned about this situation," Messonnier said. "But we are putting our concerns to work preparing, and now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing, as well";
  • What to do about kids: Ask your children's schools about their plans for dismissal and closure, and if there are any plans to offer tele-schooling options;
  • What to do about work: Ask your employer if telework is an option, especially important if closed schools and daycares mean your children must stay home under your care;
  • What to do about health care: Does your health care provider offer telemedicine options? If so, this is a good time to get signed up for them and get any equipment you need.

What could come next

365体育投注Messonnier said local communities will make their own decisions about what safety measures to enact if the coronavirus extends its reach across the nation. Each community's needs will vary, and so will its solutions.

She said the best CDC reference was a 2017 document, that drew on 200 research articles to help communities respond to an influenza pandemic. Since there is no vaccine for COVID-19, all the responses are non-pharmaceutical.

“Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in this country," she said, using the public health term for when infected people aren't sure where or how they got infected. "It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

What a community response could include:

  • Personal measures: Voluntarily quarantine yourself at home if you're exposed or someone you live with is sick, consider telehealth services, postpone elective surgery, and similar to prevention measures for flu season, stay home if you're sick, cover coughs and sneezes and wash your hands;
  • Community measures: Social distancing -- essentially, keep people away from each other, especially in large groups. This could include school closures and dismissals, dividing students into smaller groups, tele-schooling and canceling mass gatherings;
  • Environmental measures: Cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and objects.

Helpful resources

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