An image of the first U.S. case of coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Bridge Magazine and The Associated Press
The spread of a new coronavirus, known as COVID-2019, is all but inevitable in the United States, according to a top official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday the agency expects to see more cases in the United States, and she urged parents and schools to brace for “severe” disruptions to everyday life.
Globally, cases of COVID-19 have now topped 80,000, with the death toll at 2,700 people, mostly in China, according to the World Health Organization.
Michigan’s hospitals and public health officials — already in the middle of widespread flu — say they are planning to confront the virus, officially known as COVID-19.
State health officials have said the flu actually presents a greater threat to the public health than the new coronavirus.
But the global impact of the viral outbreak is threatening to crimp economic growth and hurt profits and revenue for a wide range of economic sectors, including agriculture.
Earlier this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 1,000 points as the spread of the coronavirus threatened wider damage to the global economy.
As of Feb. 19, the new coronavirus had not been detected in Michigan, but the state confirmed that it has monitored hundreds of residents or visitors who may have been exposed to the virus.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, along with local health departments, lists 341 people in the state who have been referred for monitoring of coronavirus since Jan. 31 by the CDC, according to department spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin.
It is believed that symptoms develop within 14 days of exposure, and those that have passed the two week window are no longer monitored.
Five people in Michigan have actually been tested for the virus, with all results coming back negative. Only those with a possible exposure to the new coronavirus and who develop symptoms meet the CDC guidelines for testing.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had referred 334 people to the MDHSS for monitoring. Among those monitored are travelers who arrived in the United States through one of 11 airports, including Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Other individuals were on cruise ships, Sutfin said.
Those deemed at the lowest risk of exposure were asked to “self-monitor” for any symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those deemed medium risk are considered “self-quarantined” and are asked to stay at home as they stay alert for symptoms, Sutfin said.
Only those with a possible exposure and who develop symptoms would meet the CDC guidelines for testing.
The rapid spread to countries outside of China is raising anxiety about the threat the outbreak poses to the global economy. South Korea is now on its highest alert for infectious diseases after cases there spiked. Italy reported a sharp rise in cases and a dozen towns in the northern, more industrial part of that country are under quarantine. The nation now has the biggest outbreak in Europe, prompting officials to cancel Venice's famed Carnival, along with soccer matches and other public gatherings.
There are also more cases of the virus being reported in the Middle East as it spreads to Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait, among others.