The United Kingdom had its biggest one-day rise in cases this week, with a total of 460 coronavirus cases, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday that two-thirds of her nation could be infected before the disease subsides. “Given a virus for which there is no immunity and no immunization, we have to understand that many people will be infected,” Merkel said at a news conference. “The consensus among experts is that 60 to 70 percent of the population will be infected.”
Alongside CDC Director Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Trump fielded questions about the federal response to Covid-19, the disease that has so far infected more than 100,000 people around the world and killed more than 3,500—including at least 19 in the United States.
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Plus: How can I avoid catching it? Is Covid-19 more deadly than the flu? Our in-house Know-It-Alls answer your questions.On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a “pandemic ” and urged countries to get serious about stopping its spread. “We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday at a press conference.
It appears that Tedros’ message was aimed at the lackluster US response , which until this week has been slow to ramp up both testing and social distancing. Now, some public health experts say they are skeptical that Trump’s European travel ban will contain the spread of the novel coronavirus here in the United States. That’s because the virus is already passing from person to person through what’s called “community spread,” and many social distancing measures are just now being put in place, weeks after the virus was already detected in most US states.The US has recorded 1,323 Covid-19 cases as of Thursday morning, with 38 confirmed deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center map, which tallies numbers from the CDC as well as local media reports.“I think we are focusing on the wrong things right now,” says Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Center for Global Health Security at Johns Hopkins University and associate professor of epidemiology. “We have 40 states reporting cases, and the majority are local transmission. It’s not a bad idea to postpone travel because of the chaos and uncertainty of government response. But I don’t think travel restrictions are our way out of this right now given that we have so much transmission in the United States.”
The CDC specified only that the patient was in California; the California Department of Public Health announced that the patient was a resident of Solano County—which, as other reports have pointed out, is the location of one of the Air Force bases being used for quarantines of people who’ve returned to the US from countries with the disease.
Nuzzo says Trump’s January 31 ban on travelers from China may have lulled public health officials (and the public) into a false sense of complacency. “Thinking we could keep the virus out of the US through travel bans prevented us from taking the urgent steps to address the spread of the virus in our country,” Nuzzo added. “We haven't adequately protected the elderly and people with underlying health conditions, who we know are at greatest risk of severe illness and death.”