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Trump Names Mike Pence to Lead Coronavirus Response

Health experts have questioned the C.D.C.’s decision to limit testing for the virus to people who have traveled in China or have come into contact with someone who has. Other countries are testing more broadly for the coronavirus among people from countries where outbreaks have been growing, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.

  • Updated Feb. 26, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all non-essential travel to South Korea and China.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      The World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world is not ready for a major outbreak.

“We’re testing everybody that we need to test,” Mr. Trump insisted, “and we’re finding very little problem, very little problem.”

Earlier in the day, the president had accused journalists of making the situation “look as bad as possible” even as government health experts warned that the coronavirus threat in the United States was only beginning. Without offering any details on transmission, Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, confirmed the new case on Wednesday afternoon, bringing to 60 the total number of infections that have been counted in the United States. Mr. Azar said that health officials were still figuring out how the new person became infected.

The politics of coronavirus shifted drastically on Tuesday when Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters that “it’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen.” She said that hospitals and schools should begin preparing for an outbreak, and that she had even spoken with her own family about “significant disruption of our lives.”

Mr. Trump sought on Wednesday to counter that message with a much less dire one, holding up a Johns Hopkins University study that he said showed the United States as the most prepared country in the world to confront a virus. He said he was “amazed” that tens of thousands of people died from the flu each year, contrasting that number with the several dozen currently infected with the coronavirus.

“We’re very, very ready for this, for anything, whether it’s going to be a breakout of larger proportions or whether or not, we’re, you know, we’re at that very low level,” Mr. Trump said.

The president, who is a well-known germophobe, urged Americans to be vigilant about covering their coughs and washing their hands, and he told the story of a man who recently came up to him and hugged him.

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