image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)While President Donald Trump has downplayed the possibility of a large-scale outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the United States, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that a global pandemic is imminent.
CDC officials said the virus is not currently spreading in the U.S., but it expects it will. “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,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNN.
The CDC website says the “current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic,” and new alarm was raised as the first case of “community spread” coronavirus has appeared in California.
While there are no cases of the virus reported in Georgia, there are 60 reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, the majority from those who visited China, where the outbreak originated, and Americans exposed on cruise ships. The California case is unsettling because the patient had not visited China or taken a cruise and reportedly did not come into contact with anyone who had done either, according to a report from CNN.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement that the City of Atlanta is advising residents to take basic precautions, including washing their hands, covering their coughs or sneezes and avoid touching their faces.
“We are following CDC as well as state recommendations and guidelines,” Bottoms said in a statement, which includes telling families to have a supply of essential medications and child-care plans in case anyone in the household gets sick and encouraging private employers to review and update work continuity plans.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has screened more than 1,000 passengers for the virus and 200 Atlanta travelers have been put into “self-quarantine” after visiting China, according to a report in the AJC.
The Guardian reported Thursday that the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase around the world, forcing travel bans, closure of  businesses and schools, and the postponement of major sporting and entertainment events. Financial experts have also warned that the continued spread could trigger a financial crisis similar to 2008.