Renowned retired neurosurgeon and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson warned Sunday that if the coronavirus is not contained, America could end up in a “horrendous situation.”
Carson, who is a newly added member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, was responding to questions on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” about a recent report suggesting that up to 96 million people stateside could become infected with the new coronavirus, resulting in nearly 500,000 potential deaths.
“We’re in communication with a lot of experts around the country in terms of the best ways to contain this,” Carson told host Maria Bartiromo. “Obviously if we don’t use best practices to contain the spread, then we will have a horrendous situation, but we are very cognizant of that.”
More than 110,000 people have already been infected with the coronavirus globally and nearly 4,000 have died as of Monday morning. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. also increased to nearly 550 on Sunday and some 22 of them have died.
In a webinar titled "What healthcare leaders need to know: Preparing for the COVID-19," presented to hospitals on Feb. 26, Dr. James Lawler, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, shared his best guess of the outcomes of the coronavirus.
People aged 80, he said have a 14 percent chance of dying if they have the infection; those aged 70 to 79 and 60 to 69 have an estimated mortality rate of 8 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively, if they contract the virus.
Lawler also noted that medical conditions can also influence someone's risk.
He further noted that health officials also know that the virus can be passed on by people who have “little in the way of symptomatology and in some cases no symptomatology at all.”
“We need to use that information appropriately,” he said. “If you go to a place where there’s a lot of people and you have a compromised immune system, maybe you need to rethink that.”
Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and a doctor leading the efforts for a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus in the U.K., told Channel 4 News that long-term, the coronavirus can do significant damage.
“I think talking about the potential of the virus is important because you can understand how dangerous of a threat it is. I think it’s up to societies and how they want to respond to the virus,” Hatchett said while discussing how China and Singapore are doing well in ensuring the virus is contained.
“It's the most frightening disease I've ever encountered in my career, and that includes Ebola, it includes MERS, it includes SARS. And it's frightening because of the combination of infectiousness and a lethality that appears to be manyfold higher than flu,” he said.
Hatchett explained that the U.K. government needs to work on contact tracing, voluntary quarantining of those contacts and also think about the possibility of closing schools.
“I think there may be a time to close schools,” he said.
“Children have been minimally affected by COVIF-19. What’s unclear is whether they have been infected and just handled the infections well or whether they actually are not being infected. I think there is some limited data that suggest that children are probably at risk.
“If you look at the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the attacks rates among people on that ship who are under the age of 20 were identical to the attack rates overall so ... that is evidence that younger people can be infected,” he said.
He also explained that in areas where people have already died from the new coronavirus it is likely that the virus had been circulating for at least weeks, “even more than a month.”