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article imageU.S. health officials shift tone on COVID-19 as virus spreads

By Karen Graham     Mar 8, 2020 in Health
The reality that the U.S. may not be able to contain the spread of the new coronavirus began to set in this weekend as federal health officials escalated warnings to vulnerable groups and said to prepare for more disruptions.
White House officials have grown increasingly frustrated over President Donald Trump's downplaying and outright peddling of misinformation on the COVID-19 outbreak. The issue was rectified when federal health officials appeared on Sunday morning talk shows to give the public the real low-down on the crisis.
Early on Sunday morning, Trump tweeted praise for his administration’s response, which he called a "perfectly coordinated and fine-tuned plan," and blamed the media, which he said was “doing everything possible to make us look bad.”
"We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas, which was a Godsend. V.P. is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!"
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on “Fox News Sunday," warning vulnerable groups that the crisis is far from over and the U.S. may not be able to contain the spread of the virus. Vulnerable groups include those people who are sick, elderly and those with underlying diseases, especially COPD, heart disease and diabetes.
“You should start to distance yourself from the risk, crowds, getting on a plane, on a long plane trip, and, above all, don’t get on a cruise ship,” Fauci advised people with underlying health risks.
Fauci also appeared on NBC's Meet the Press. "If you get infected, the risk of getting into trouble is considerable, so it’s our responsibility to protect the vulnerable," Fauci said. "When I say protect, I mean right now, not wait until things get worse, say 'no large crowds, no long trips, and above all, don’t get on a cruise ship.'"
Fauci pointed out that many of the cases are showing signs of “community spread,” meaning they couldn’t be traced back to a single source and suggesting the outbreak is intensifying.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams appeared on CBS's “Face the Nation.” He discussed the Grand Princess cruise ship, with about 3,500 people on board, saying it will be moved to an unused dock in Oakland, California on Monday. “No one who’s tested positive for a coronavirus or who has symptoms will be put in a position where they can expose other people,” he said.
Adams noted that while attempts to contain the virus may have bought the country a little time, he suggested the epidemic was entering a new phase that would be more disruptive to daily life.
“Containment worked to slow the introduction of the virus and gave people time to prepare, and now we know that communities need to look at how we deal with, with community spread and things such as social distancing, not having large gatherings, pulling down events,” he said.
As of 5:00 p.m. EDST, the U.S. now has 510 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 401 cases including 19 deaths, recorded earlier on Sunday. Multiple sources acknowledged Trump is simply not on the same wavelength as the rest of his team but said there isn’t much they can do to change his public tone on misrepresenting the facts behind the coronavirus outbreak.
One person close to the White House said Trump thinks it helps him politically to keep doing what he has been doing. This has led to a lot of discouragement because a more comprehensive message about what needs to be done and preparing the public for likely hardships and major changes to their daily lives could be ahead, said one White House official.
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