Updated Feb 26, 2020 - Health

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

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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Coronavirus traces found on Diamond Princess 17 days after passengers left

Emergency workers exit the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, in February. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Traces of the novel coronavirus were found in the cabins on the Diamond Princess cruise ship up to 17 days after passengers left, a study published by the CDC Monday found.

Why it matters: Axios health care editor Sam Baker notes: "The virus lives a long time on hard surfaces, and that's another reason to be wary about quickly reopening businesses like bars, restaurants and gyms while the virus is still spreading quickly."

Go deeperArrowMar 24, 2020 - Health

CDC detects first possible community spread of coronavirus in U.S.

A virologist looking at an electron microscope image of a MERS coronavirus, a close relative of the novel coronavirus. Photo: Arne Dedert/picture alliance via Getty Images

A person in California who hadn't traveled to a country impacted by the novel coronavirus nor had any known contact with anyone infected by the virus has tested positive to COVID-19, the CDC said in a statement.

Why it matters: Per the CDC, "It's possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States. Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown." However, the patient may have "been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected," the CDC noted. "At this time, the patient's exposure is unknown," it said.

Go deeper:

Sanders mocks Trump's coronavirus response: This "great scientist" says it will end in April

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Sen. Bernie Sanders mocked President Trump's response to the novel coronavirus Tuesday at the Democratic debate.

What they're saying:

" In the White House today, we have a self-described great genius — self-described — and this great genius has told us that this coronavirus is going to end in two months. April is the magical date that this great scientist we have in the White House has determined — I wish I was kidding, that is what he said."
— Sanders