Health officials believe there is still opportunity to prevent widespread transmission of the coronavirus in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday, even as he warned that more human-to-human transmission here is likely.

“We’re still going to see new cases. We’re probably going to see human-to-human transmission within the United States,” Dr. Robert Redfield said in an interview with STAT.

He added that “at some point in time it is highly probable that we’ll have to transition to mitigation” as a public health strategy, using “social distancing measures” — for example, closure of certain public facilities — and other techniques to try to limit the number of people who become infected.


“We’re not going to be able to seal this virus from coming into this country,” Redfield said. But, he added, “we do gain time by prolonging the containment phase as long as we can, provided that we still believe that’s a useful public health effort.

“That’s where we are right now in the United States.”

To date the U.S. has diagnosed 14 cases of the new infection. Of those, 12 were travelers who were infected in China before traveling home.

If the United States begins to see instances in several parts of the country in which a single case ignites four “generations” of human-to-human infection, Redfield said — meaning a person who contracted the virus infects a person, who infects another person, who then infects another person — then the CDC is likely to conclude containment of the virus has failed.

“Once we get greater than three — so four or more is our view — [generations of] human-to-human transmission in the community … and we see that in multiple areas of the country that are not contiguous, then basically the value of all of the containment strategies that we’ve done now then really become not effective,” he said. “That’s when we’re in full mitigation.”

The CDC director’s remarks came as a group of experts that advises the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program recommended that the world stay the current course of trying to halt spread of the new virus to stop it from becoming a human pathogen.

That strategy, “containment for elimination,” was successful during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak — though this epidemic is already nearly six times larger than SARS. During the SARS outbreak, roughly 8,000 people were infected and nearly 800 died.

Redfield said that China, which has reported more than 45,000 cases to date, has not been able to contain the virus, despite massively restricting internal travel to try to stop it from spreading from Hubei province. The epicenter of the outbreak has been the city of Wuhan, located in Hubei.

“Those countries that are still largely seeing cases that are really, like us, directly from Hubei province, there’s reason to still stay in the containment mode rather than turning that off and going right to mitigation. Because once you’re into mitigation, you will probably start to see more cases that may have been able to be contained,” Redfield said.

The United States, along with a number of other countries, has taken a variety of steps to try to limit the risk of new infections from entering the country.

The State Department has ceased issuing visas to foreign nationals who have been in China in the past 14 days. Health officials are also quarantining people arriving in the United States for 14 days if they have set foot in Hubei province; people returning to the U.S. from other parts of China are being asked to self-quarantine for that period, which represents the estimated incubation period of the disease.

The WHO, which declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 30, has urged countries not to restrict travel or trade with China. Later the same day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Americans not to travel to China, raising his department’s travel warning for China to the highest possible level.

Asked if American policy was in conflict with the WHO’s advice, Redfield said the U.S. position on travel with China was evidence-based.

“I would suggest WHO’s point of view is an opinion. It obviously carries weight because they’re a strong global health organization,” he said. “But we independently, those of us on the president’s [coronavirus] task force, independently evaluated what the options were. And we felt collectively this was time for us to use movement restrictions and temporarily restrict travel for non-U.S. citizens.”

Some health experts and others have questioned the wisdom of the U.S. decision, noting that it was all but impossible for the restrictions alone to prevent all transmission of the virus. But officials have rejected that criticism.

“This really isn’t a ‘let’s stop it and then we’re done.’ It’s a ‘if we can pause it a little bit, we buy ourselves some time to work on the rest of our pandemic planning,’” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a panel discussion Tuesday at the Aspen Institute in Washington.

Also on Tuesday, the WHO announced the illness caused by the virus would be known as Covid-19, the letters in the name a short form of “coronavirus disease.” Simultaneously, a working group of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses announced it would recommend the virus be called SARS-CoV2, because of its relatedness to the earlier virus. It had been provisionally known as 2019-nCoV previously.

Asked about the new names, Redfield, an HIV expert who recalls well the early controversies over the naming of that disease, said he believed the new disease name is unlikely to stick.

“I suspect you’ll see an evolution of this and there will be a coalescence,” Redfield said, suggesting the name of the virus and the name of the disease it causes will likely be more evidently linked. “I suspect at the end of the day the scientific community will drive that.”

Nicholas Florko contributed reporting.

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  • The virus has a demonstrable rate of transmission that will undoubtedly breach current US bulwarks. Given that mitigation steps are now the focus of discussion, how will Americans be informed and prepared for what is coming?
    And the 64K question being, will a vaccine be available before support and treatment facilities are overwhelmed when infection rates follow their expected rise?

    • Dr Fauci of the CDC in a televised briefing a few days ago, said full vaccine development is 1-2 years away …. he estimated approx 3 months for Phase I testing, 6 months for phase II, and a year or so for phase III. And that assumes the CDC can persuade a pharmaceutical company to do the wide scale, and costly manufacturing required.

  • If one checks flightaware . c o m website and checks schedule from beijing / shanghai / hong kong to 11 airports accepting arrivals from China, you will see many daily flights.

    Pretty mind boggling that USA is still allowing returns from China without mandatory quarantine. Unless a person admits to visiting hubei recently and/or presents symptoms, there’s no quaratine.

    Just imagine how many people are arriving and exposing possivle covid19 to others.

    Redfiled is just an academic who was ill suited to be at the helm during such a wild black swan event.

  • The problem is that even the information in this article isn’t correct. The death toll in China is far higher than anyone is reporting; they are burning bodies to cover it up to keep the numbers low. NO test can be done to diagnose the coronavirus besides a reverse transcriptase analysis or growing it in a Petri dish. Further, the incubation period has been extended to 24 days, that’s ten days beyond the “quarantine” length. Good chance infected people are walking out of quarantine without even knowing yet they are ill. The virus has a droplet spray of 5 to 7 feet away from the projecting source and is surviving far longer outside (I believe was 5 to 7 days) of a host, which is beyond any viral capabilities I am familiar with. I have worked as an infection control nurse (and member of the western medical community for 16 years and the alternative health community for four years) and believe me when I say the media isn’t sharing even a fraction of what is going on. What is the main thing people are told when they get the flu or a cold? ‘It’s a virus; it has to run its course, ‘ or, ‘if you are x amount of hours past time of infection, there’s is no medication we can give beyond symptom relief/control.’ I hate to say it, but this is a virus. The difference is that there are things to help limit the possibility of getting infected and also to shorten the life cycle of the virus so people can recover faster. But, since it won’t make Big Pharma rich, no one is talking about it. Bit, it is a topic I feel more people should know about so that they can make their own choices. The article above even clearly states that the CDC is trying to bide their time so they can come up with a ‘profitable’ solution. I cannot stand the CDC or the WHO because neither cares about the health and welfare of the people. They act all alarmed at this outbreak, but they have known about how coronaviruses behave since the late 1800s. If you want the real truth, do your own research because you can’t believe mainstream media.

  • so hope i stay well. It takes 50 days here in Pioneer, Ca to get a doctors
    appointment. Medicare seniors just have to go without medical care

    • Why would anyone want a toxic vaccine and side effects ? Big pharma $$$. Depopulate? Don’t start with the vaccines BS. 😠 This is a Man made virus. The man with the plan$. (Bill Gates). The answer and future is simple. Stop/destroy the making of All these biowarfare killing viruses in labs . Mr Gates should be first to get the vaccine as well as his whole family and see how that goes. But I guess him buying a huge yacht and taking off to the ocean in his luxury liner right when this break out happened says it all. Why is nobody addressing the real cause and effect of this pandemic as well as prior that were made in a lab and this one in China? So over evil , corruption and greed . All for power and control and depopulation. We Don’t need “toxic vaccines”, we need decent humans running all the worlds countries “for the people”, not against . Stop putting fluoride in our drinking water, Stop Geoengineering, stop giving our kids 70 some toxic injections called vaccines that have made them zombies. People have become sheeple and blind as hell! Autism my ass. It’s neurological and mind controlling injections given the name of Autism 😠. So sad where all this is leading and so many are so blind or to numb to care from all the aluminum in the brain. Tv “programming” convinces you what to think and feel . They want you to believe they are doing good but they are the cause and effect. Wake up 🐑🐑🐑🐑🐑

  • CDC make bug mistake in mixing up label resulting in result of patient that never got tested who turned to be positive. They also send defective test kit to some states. I hope those responsible will be terminated or discipline. This is a serious matter. Unfortunately, it is hard to terminate government employee.

    Having said this, I still believe CDC more than I believe WHO is acting like a puppet of China. I stop listening to whatever WHO said, as they have lost credibility, but pay more attention what Chinese scientist said and what other government aside from China said.

    Despite CDC mistake I still believe in CDC and NIH than WHO.

    • CDC make big mistake in mixing up label resulting in releasing patient that never got tested who turned to be positive. They also send defective test kits to some states. I hope those responsible will be terminated or discipline. This is a serious matter. Unfortunately, it is hard to terminate government employee.

      Having said this, I still believe CDC more than I believe WHO, who is acting like a puppet of China. I stop listening to whatever WHO said, as they have lost credibility, but pay more attention what Chinese scientist said and what other governments aside from China.

      Despite CDC mistakes, I still believe in CDC and NIH than WHO.

  • Great info: I really felt uneasy with the virus. I work in health field and we can’t even get enough supplies to protect our staff. Thinking of parking my portfolio to safer places for now.

    • This is exactly the reason they may withhold information. I do not believe that economy is able to sustain itself if the severity of the situation is out. They try to shield the economy first, but with what cost?

      I understand that we need to measure the pros and cons, but each day counts now for the people. The fact that we may see locality of the severity of the disease doesn’t allow anyone to withhold information and provide underestimated counts.

      CDC made two mistakes today, WHO made a mistake 10 days ago, China changes the definitions 6 days ago, UK missed someone a week ago and he happened to be a super-spreader, does this means the missed many more who they were not?

      They keep 3700 people on a ship and they get sick and noone wonders why they do not move them to isolation? They did this with the airplane evacuees.
      On the ship the infections are 175 in 8 days. Will they say that they had a super-spreader there too? I am sorry but are these the perfect conditions to understand the way a virus spreads?

      I am sorry but in Statistics, the coincidences are accepted if there is no other explanation, and there are just too many coincidences here.

  • This contradicts what the Chinese experts and government say.
    This contradicts the Chinese case numbers, which indicate that containment
    is still possible after 4 or more generations with hundreds of cases in a city.
    There is nothing about this in the article.
    And Branswell didn’t ask. Nor do Ferguson Lipsitch,Krammer etc. comment on this
    at twitter. Is it not being considered important ???
    comment on it . So, why are the Chinese numbers decreasing ? At least outside Wuhan.

    • The numbers were not decreasing. On February 5th China changed the definition of confirmed infections and excluded cases that – I believe if I understood the rationale correctly – were asymptomatic, or light symptoms.
      They were also discussed this in this morning CDC’s press conference.
      Since 2/5 the numbers reported were following a different definition.
      Today, they adjusted again their numbers and they reported more than 15000 cases with diagnoses. The number is 5 times the average cases they reporting the last 20 days.
      Of course this was expected to be done, as the death rate never decreased, so they wouldn’t be able to justify the increase of the death rate.

      Nevertheless, the deaths of 251 reported today was a shock. I wonder if there are explanations for the sudden increase of death rate, 2.53*yesterday’s reported deaths. Note that 243 were in Hubei, but we had 10 new deaths over the rest of China, that until yesterday, accounted for 56. If the other counties pick up on the number of deaths per day as expected in the future days, then we will be seen a high increase of deaths per day from now on. But still, the deaths from Hubei today were just TOO MANY and to TOO suddenly!

    • Seriously, CDC and WHO need to be careful about what they are doing. It will be remembered in history how they treat the public

      From the 5.02.2020 it was 15.19% from the previous day compared to cases today, the day before 4.02.2020 it was 19.0%.

      Not only that, this blows a 4-day average apart like what is at my site by cheating the numbers. TY for info Rena

      Wuhan Coronavirus 2019-nCoV Projected Predictions (Covid-19)

    • But if this is a reflection that they are now using the new test kits that allow for testing in 2 hours instead of 2 days. That would explain a lot too

    • rena, there was not a sudden decline on Feb.05 and then it went up as normally.
      They would have had to exclude an increasing number over each of the next days
      if it had in reality continued exponential. And not only in Hubei but also other provinces.
      The increase of deaths could be explained by the typical 3-weeks-lag from infection to death

    • Gsgs,
      Unfortunately there was. the rate of increase of infections was dropping is a factor of less than 1% per day until the 4th.
      Infections/(infections of previous day)
      2/2 2/3 2/4 2/5
      1.194820361 1.185879377 1.190439251 1.152276615
      On the 5th we had a drop of almost 4% that repeated on the 6th, to go back to a decrease of 0.5% per day until yesterday, when we had an increase of 13%

  • Very informative. This information allows individuals to prepare, rather than panic if the time comes that we need special directions.

    • Rena, Wuhan was maybe still unclear at that time (Feb.12) but cases in China ex Wuhan
      were clearly already going down since at least Feb.09
      , including most of the cities in Hubei.
      Most of the media here in Germany _still_ don’t grasp it, they report about increasing number
      of infections but they take the accumulated numbers, which of course increase.

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