Story at a glance
- Adams said the agency is working to communicate to people how they can prepare.
- He said the outbreak is likely to get worse before it gets better.
- More than 760 cases have been reported in the U.S., with 23 deaths.
The nation’s top public health official said Tuesday the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States is likely going to get worse before it gets better, but that doesn’t mean Americans should be afraid.
“We’ve been here before — H1N1, SARS, MERS,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said during an interview Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America.“We know how to handle this, and really what we’re trying to communicate to people now is how they can prepare.”
Adams advised Americans to assess their personal circumstances when making the decision to cancel travel plans or avoid public gatherings, and should be ready for a large-scale outbreak.
“There are things that we can do to prepare and not panic,” he added. “But people should know that this is going to likely get worse before it gets better.”
U.S. health officials have urged older people, especially those with underlying conditions, to avoid large social gatherings, cruise ships and airline flights to minimize the chance of becoming infected. Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
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Adams reminded people not to touch their face, not to shake hands with anyone and to wash their hands frequently with soap and water.
As the outbreak continues to spread, concerts, conferences and other events have been canceled nationwide, and several universities across the country are urging students to stay home. Harvard announced Tuesday it will not hold in-person classes for the remainder of the spring semester.
As of Tuesday, there have been at least 761 COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with at least 27 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
At least 34 of 50 states and Washington, D.C., have reported infections of COVID-19. Washington state has been hit the hardest, with 23 deaths reported, the bulk of which occurred in a nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland.
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