Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, asked the health secretary whether he thought the United States currently had enough health masks in stock.
“Of course not,” he responded, “or else we wouldn’t be asking for more.” Health care workers may need 300 million masks in the event of an outbreak, he added.
Mr. Azar said he was alarmed by the human-to-human transmission of the virus in other parts of the world without an identifiable connection to confirmed cases, and what that could mean for how the virus may spread in the United States.
But other federal health officials were trying to tamp down concerns.
“You need to do nothing different than you’re already doing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a news briefing.
Federal officials were only trying to tell Americans that if an outbreak occurs, he added, “these are the kinds of things you want to think of.”
Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, declared on CNBC that the coronavirus had been “contained” and would not do serious harm to the economy.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an economic tragedy at all,” Mr. Kudlow said.
Preparations to respond to a potential outbreak have begun, government officials said, but are far from complete.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/25/health/coronavirus-us.html