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So, Should You Panic About Coronavirus Now?

A coronavirus outbreak is likely coming to the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday morning. The number of cases here is up to 57, with health officials saying they are just trying to buy time before it starts spreading within communities. Globally, the virus is in more than 30 countries, and though the World Health Organization isn’t yet calling it a pandemic, it seems like it’s only a matter of time. You probably have a lot of questions and concerns right about now. We’re here to help.

It’s just hard to tell how a new virus is going to behave at first. It did look like the number of new cases in China was going down, and in fact, it still looks like that, according to the World Health Organization. But in recent days, there have been more and more cases reported around the world, and more in the U.S., pushing the chance that the virus will be contained lower and lower. “The cat’s out of the bag,” says Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC–Davis Health.

Hm. On the one hand: “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a press conference Tuesday. On the other hand, it’s easier to prepare for a worst-case scenario when you’re calm, and also, most people who get the coronavirus end up being just fine. Panicking still won’t help, but you should continue to take precautions like hand-washing, and you should also listen to public health officials’ advice.

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