An outbreak of the Coronavirus on the U.S. mainland is imminent, according to officials with the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

As of February 25, 53 cases have been diagnosed, 39 of which concern Americans who have been repatriated from abroad. Approximately 2,500 people have died from the virus worldwide, the majority of who are Chinese.

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more [sic] but a question of when this will happen,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD).

The CDC is gearing up to defend the country against the deadly virus. And U.S. health officials seem quite aggressive in their protective measures.

The health agency stated that “the U.S. government and public health partners are implementing aggressive measures to slow and contain transmission of COVID-19 in the United States.”

Almost 500 CDC staff members, who have been trained on the Coronavirus, have been deployed to 39 high-threat locations both in the U.S. and abroad. In addition, the CDC has set up quarantine stations at various ports of entry, to include the country’s busiest airports plus the 11 airports were all flights from China are being redirected to. Any individuals suspect of carrying the virus are subjected to a 14-day quarantine.

To mask or not to mask, that is the question

Read Next: To mask or not to mask, that is the question

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) of the Johns Hopkins University has created an interactive dashboard where you can track the disease as it spreads across the world. This image portrays the spread of the virus in the U.S. as of 2/25. 

“CDC staff members,” stated a CDC report, “are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI).”

The Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and State are also actively involved in the national defense against an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

But Dr. Messonnier stated that U.S. health officials have no idea if an outbreak will be mild or severe. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” she added.

The HHS Secretary, Alex M. Azar II, said in a statement to the Senate that this is an unprecedented, potentially severe global health challenge. We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus. And we need to be realistic about that.”

The economic consequences of a potential outbreak are already becoming evident. The S&P 500 has been tumbling for two consecutive days as investors are concerned about the disease.

Essential protective measures, such as gloves and masks, are already in high demand. The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is anticipating that just health care workers will require more than 300 million masks. And some are concerned about potential food shortages.

Like any other highly contagious disease, once the Coronavirus takes hold of a country, it quickly spreads. In Italy, for example, 10 people have died and almost 400 have been contaminated since Friday. It is important to note, however, that most of the people who die belong to sensitive age groups or suffer from weak immune systems.

For a practical resource on how to deal with the Coronavirus, visit Apple iBooks.