U.S. public health officials are now warning schools and businesses to prepare in advance of a potential coronavirus spread. The virus has spread to more than 80,000 confirmed cases by February 25. Outbreaks have now been reported in Italy, Iran and South Korea.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States now say that the chance of coronavirus reaching pandemic levels is likely.

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Dr. Nancy Messonnier, a CDC director, said during a press briefing on Tuesday, “You should ask your children’s schools about their plans for school dismissals or school closures. Ask about plans for teleschool. I contacted my local school superintendent this morning with exactly those questions.”

Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” according to Messonnier. “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.”

The CDC is asking schools and businesses to have telework policies in place. The CDC is encouraging everyone to get an influenza vaccine. The CDC also posted a list of recommendations for prevention, including:

  • “Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.”

Scientists believe the source of the virus to be an exotic animal market in Wuhan. The virus was transmitted from an animal to humans. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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Catch up on our coronavirus coverage in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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