Health experts urged Congress to prepare for widespread coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. which could number in the hundreds of thousands.
After a record-breaking day on the stock market on Wednesday, the Dow Jones took a brutal fall when trading resumed on Thursday.
It comes as U.S. health experts urged Congress to take the coronavirus threat more seriously. According to one testimony, there are likely seven or eight unknown cases for every confirmed infection.
Asha George, executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, warned:
It may be hundreds of thousands of cases (in the U.S. eventually).
Speaking before the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, a number of experts agreed the threat to the U.S. is underestimated and under-reported.
The Dow Jones dove off its record highs on Thursday, though it pared its losses following a brutal opening bell drop.
As of 9:53 am ET, the Dow had lost 111.8 points or 0.38% to settle at 29,439.62.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also struggled, falling 0.25% and 0.34%, respectively.
Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said there are “certainly cases we don’t know about,” and that we’re only “capturing 25 percent of cases at best.” He urged the committee to expand testing and warned them to expect a wider outbreak.
We’re going to see those outbreaks start to emerge in the next two to four weeks.
If it spreads in the U.S., there could be a drag on the Dow Jones and economy.
Recent data releases have forecasted a positive outlook for U.S. growth. On Thursday, unemployment claims (205,000) narrowly beat expectations (210,000). Core inflation hit the consensus 0.2% target.
Economists worry that the picture could suddenly darken as the impact of the coronavirus begins to filter out of China and into the global economy. That’s especially true if the disease goes viral in the U.S.
Luciana Borio, former director for medical and biodefense preparedness at the National Security Council, agreed. He said the real number of cases is “much, much higher” than reported.
We need to brace ourselves for difficult weeks or months to come… We’re going to see a lot more cases in the United States in the near future.
China confirmed overnight what many had already suspected: the infection rate is significantly higher than first thought. Almost 15,000 new cases were reported overnight, taking the global toll to 60,000.
The numbers spiked after China changed the way it diagnosed the virus. Additional cases were confirmed in the U.S. and London. Julie Gerberding, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that America is not yet prepared for the looming pandemic.
We simply don’t have the surge capacity to handle a widespread outbreak. Now is the time to be “leaning in.”
With additional reporting by Josiah Wilmoth
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.
Last modified: February 13, 2020 2:57 PM UTC