With the United States now over 1,000 confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus, a top federal health official told Congress on Wednesday that with no vaccine ready in the near future, lawmakers should expect the number of cases to continue to rise, as the outbreak spreads around the country.
“It is ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu,” Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told a House panel.
"The flu has a mortality of 0.1 percent," Fauci told one GOP lawmaker. "This has a mortality of ten times that.
"Bottom line, it's going to get worse," Fauci noted.
Fauci said while testing and development of a vaccine is already underway, it will take a minimum of 12 to 18 months for that to be tested to see if it works - and if it is safe.
"Now anyone who thinks they will go more quickly than that, I believe will be cutting corners," Fauci added.
While the number of cases are trending downward in China, health officials said their concern now has shifted closer to the United States.
"Europe is the new China," said Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control.
While health officials wait for the development of a vaccine and drugs to specifically treat the Coronavirus, Fauci said the next steps will be left to local health officials to figure out how best to prevent further spread of the virus.
"We're going to have to rely on public health measures to contain this outbreak," as Fauci said state and local officials should act now - especially in areas which have seen no cases at all.
“We would recommend that there not be large crowds,” Fauci said. “If that means not having anybody in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it.”
Those type of measures would include efforts by state and local governments to limit public gatherings, closing schools, and other measures to reduce the chances of people transmitting the virus through contact with others.
Some like Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio have already called for sports teams to not allow fans to gather and watch games.
"For indoor events, we are asking for no events with spectators other than the athletes, parents, and others essential to the game," DeWine said Tuesday.
"Right now, outdoor events can continue," DeWine added.
In Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear (D) on Wednesday urged churches to postpone services, as a way of not bringing people together, in order to combat the Coronavirus.
"I have recommended people think carefully before gathering in large groups," said Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington State.