Updated Feb 26, 2020 - Health

CDC warns it's anticipating spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

coronavirus under microscope
Photo: BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

59 people have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus in the U.S., an increase in cases largely driven by the repatriation of American citizens from the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The big picture: As more countries experience community-wide transmission, CDC official Dr. Nancy Messonnier told reporters Tuesday that it's now a question of when the same will happen in the U.S. — and how many citizens will develop a severe illness.

  • Two of the cases were contracted through person-to-person contact.

What's happening: The CDC outlined standard public health measures to mitigate spread of the virus on Tuesday, including what closing schools and businesses would look like in a U.S. pandemic.

  • "We really want to prepare the American public for the possibility that their lives will be disrupted," Messonnier said.
  • Schools and workplaces may need to explore tele-commuting and online assignments. Hospitals also may need to regroup patients.

Full coverage: The latest coronavirus developments

Editor's note: This story has been updated to a more current case count in the U.S.

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