Federal health officials issued a blunt message Tuesday: Americans need to start preparing now for the possibility that more aggressive, disruptive measures might be needed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus in the U.S.
The strongly worded warning came in response to outbreaks of the virus outside China, including in Iran, Japan, South Korea and Italy, which officials say have raised the likelihood of outbreaks occurring stateside.
"It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but more really a question of when it will happen — and how many people in this country will have severe illness," Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters during a briefing.
While aggressive measures such as travel restrictions and the first federal quarantine in a half century have probably slowed the arrival of the coronavirus in the U.S., Messonnier said even more intrusive steps likely will be needed.
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