Members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force briefed reporters Tuesday on the successful efforts toward containing the coronavirus but warned that it would likely become a global pandemic.
“Current global circumstances suggest it’s likely this virus will cause a pandemic,” Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Anne Schuchat, told reporters at a news briefing on Tuesday.
Schuchat previewed future plans for mitigating the spread of the virus and warned that it would spread in the United States, despite quarantine efforts.
“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 become infected,” she said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that President Trump’s aggressive response to the spread of the virus with strict quarantine and travel bans were successful in preventing the spread of the virus so far, but that “community transmission” in other countries was “deeply concerning.”
“The immediate risk to the general American public remains low,” Azar said. “But as we have warned that has the potential to change quickly.”
The virus has spread from China to countries such as South Korea, Iran, and Italy, prompting additional concerns that it would spread to the United States. But Azar said the United States had time to prepare to handle the disease.
“This preparation has been possible in part because of how aggressively President Trump has responded to this outbreak,” Azar said, praising the president’s travel bans at the border.
Schuchat previewed possible government proposals for Americans to practice hygiene and to isolate themselves from public places if America suffered a widespread outbreak and know when to seek treatment.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci told reporters human trials for a vaccine to the virus would be a month and a half away.
Currently, only 14 cases have been discovered in the United States, Azar said, noting that the cases were people who had traveled to China or had close contacts with the travelers. Three cases, he said were from Americans repatriated from Wuhan and 40 additional Americans who were diagnosed with the disease were brought back to the United States from a cruise ship in Japan.
Globally, the virus has infected more than 80,200 and killed at least 2,704 people.
Earlier Tuesday, President Trump described the spread of the coronavirus “very well under control in our country”
“We have very few people with it … we think they’ll be in very good shape very, very soon,” he said.