“Disruption to everyday life might be severe.”
The city of San Francisco, California, has declared a state of emergency in response to the growing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. On Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced the city is going to start preparing now as the “global picture is changing rapidly.”
“We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Franciscans from harm,” Mayor Breed said.
Health Dept Dir. on what the emergency corona virus declaration will do help San Francisco prepare pic.twitter.com/SCArHoWOXP
— Mark Matthews (@MarkMatthewsNBC) February 25, 2020
While there have been no confirmed cases in San Francisco, the move comes after a day of press conferences from various agencies that gave mixed messages in regards to recommended responses to the outbreak.
Nancy Messonier, director of the CDC’s National Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a statement:
“As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder. It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses.”
She added, “disruption to everyday life might be severe.”
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recommended taking a more of a “wait and see” approach during their Tuesday press conference.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said:
“The immediate risk to the general American public remains low, but that has the potential to change quickly.”
“Part of preparedness is an educated population thinking about the future,” he added.
Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch has predicted in an interview with the Atlantic that the virus will eventually infect somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of the entire world, because it has now become “uncontainable.” However, Lipsitch does not believe that the virus will be deadly to all of these people because some cases will be mild or asymptomatic.
A case study published this week by Chinese researchers in the journal JAMA has shown that a 20-year-old woman from Wuhan passed the illness on to five of her family members but never became sick herself—so it appears that it possible for someone to transmit the virus without showing symptoms. To make matters even more confusing, the young woman initially tested negative for the illness before testing positive days later.