On the day a top federal health official warned that it’s only a matter of time until the coronavirus affects American communities, Los Angeles County officials again stressed Tuesday there is no immediate need to cancel or avoid public gatherings.
On its Twitter page, the county Department of Public Health again issued a reminder — as they have repeatedly in recent weeks — that at this time, “there is no need to cancel school or social events.”
“There are no restrictions on public gatherings. Parents, guardians, staff and students should be reminded that part of good hygiene is staying home from events when they are ill,” according to the local health agency.
The department also urged anyone who develops signs of illness to avoid going to work.
“Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication,” according to the public health agency. “Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.”
The Department of Public Health has been regularly posting such notices on its social media pages since fears of the coronavirus began escalating weeks ago. But Tuesday’s posts came just hours after a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said an outbreak of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, which has killed more than 2,600 people, is likely to occur on American soil.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen any more, 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, head of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a media briefing.
“… The data over the last week in the spread in other countries has certainly raised our level of concern and raised our level of expectation that we are going to have community spread here,” she said.
Officially, there have been 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, primarily among recent travelers to China or other areas affected by the virus. Los Angeles and Orange counties have both confirmed one case each.
Messonnier warned that when an outbreak occurs domestically, there could be “severe” disruption to “everyday life.”
“We can have community spread in the United States and have it be reasonably mild, and we can have community spread in the U.S. and have it be very severe,” she said. “That is what we don’t completely know yet and we certainly also don’t exactly know when it’s going to happen.”
More than 80,000 cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide.
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