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A sign outside the Tokyo National Museum in Japan. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

We still don't know a lot about the coronavirus, and those unknowns make even the best contingency planning a lot harder.

The big picture: We don't know how widely the virus is spreading undetected, which makes it more important for leaders to map out worst-case scenarios. But experts say we're also not at a place where closing schools, requiring telecommuting or canceling public events are imminent or practical.

  • "There's a lot of panic and concern, but there's no indication that these more dramatic measures are necessary," said Allison Bartlett, an infectious disease physician at the University of Chicago.

The latest: President Trump has increased travel restrictions to Iran and authorized "do not travel" warnings for areas in Italy and South Korea — and said he's looking "very strongly" at closing the southern border with Mexico.

  • But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield announced the Washington state patient who died had no known link to travel or contact with anyone with the disease.
  • And now health officials are concerned about a long-term care facility in Kirkland, Washington, where more than 50 people have respiratory symptoms and are being tested for the virus.

What's happening: The dire scenarios took over the national conversation after the CDC's Nancy Messonnier told the public last week to ask school districts about remote learning, consider alternative child care, work from home and monitor scheduled gatherings. "These are things that people need to start thinking about now," she said.

  • There's no clear or defined threshold to trigger those kinds of responses.
  • But "the people who are making those decisions are going to be mindful of the fact that this [virus] can spread very quickly," said Jeff Shaman, an infectious disease expert at Columbia University.

School closings have already happened in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere — but they happened because of this year's virulent flu season, not the coronavirus.

  • The flu is infecting and killing more people, but the coronavirus has a higher preliminary mortality rate. (That mortality rate could be incorrect, though, because we don't know how many people are infected with the coronavirus but are not showing symptoms.)
  • Regardless, the last thing we want is two deadly viruses swamping the public at the same time, experts say.
  • On Saturday, Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told reporters that, like the flu, most of the deaths will be among elderly or people with underlying medical conditions — but that "every once in a while, you're going to see a one-off" like a young adult dying from the virus.

Yes, but: In China, people "have accepted and adhered to the starkest of containment measures — whether the suspension of public gatherings, the month-long 'stay-at-home' advisories or prohibitions on travel," experts wrote in a new World Health Organization report.

  • Those restrictions helped slow the spread, but they are tough to enforce in the U.S. for many reasons, including the lack of guaranteed paid sick leave.
  • That makes staying home — from work, school or events — not financially or technologically feasible for millions.

The bottom line: Society isn't about to shut down. But the flu and coronavirus should motivate people to be diligent stewards of health by covering coughs, washing hands thoroughly and disinfecting common objects — which is about all they can do right now.

Go deeper: Brace yourself for a coronavirus outbreak

Go deeper

Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

Source: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation and jobs may get all the economic headlines, but meanwhile a big shift is taking place in the underpinnings of the world economy: The U.S. trade deficit is soaring.

What's happening: Americans' spending on imported physical goods has gone through the roof, while exports are growing slowly, making the U.S. the world's consumer of last resort.

Mike Allen, author of AM
49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Third Way: "Big Lie" could become "Big Coup"

Graphic: Third Way

Third Way, the center-left think tank, is urging fellow Democrats to respond to the Capitol riot with "the size, scope, and seriousness of a presidential campaign," co-founder Matt Bennett tells me.

Driving the news: "For the first time in U.S. history, a party must mount two parallel presidential campaigns: one to win the election, and the other to prevent its theft," Bennett said, calling this "a Paul Revere moment."

Advocates say Biden has let Haitian migrants down

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Christian Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Continued turmoil in Haiti is causing a growing number of Haitians to try to make it to American shores — and some advocates say the Biden administration isn't supporting this community in its time of crisis.

The big picture: Haitian-American activists in South Florida told Axios Today they feel like President Biden has gone back on campaign promises he made to the community to stand up for them.