How Prepared Is the U.S. for a Coronavirus Outbreak?

Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, who has studied infection control practices in health care settings, said such facilities might eventually have to limit visitors, or even keep residents under quarantine as a preventive measure.

“Nursing homes will be extremely vulnerable to this epidemic, and it will be difficult to implement hygiene practices to prevent the spread,” he said.

On Friday, an employee of an elementary school near Portland, Ore., tested positive for the coronavirus and the school, Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego, was shut down. In Washington State, where a high school student received a diagnosis of coronavirus the same day, officials suggested that people needed to prepare for the possibility of schools closing and businesses keeping workers home. In Santa Clara County, Calif., where another new case was announced, Dr. Sara Cody, the county health officer, said, “Schools should plan for absenteeism, and explore options for learning at home and enhanced cleaning of surfaces.”

The spread of the coronavirus has rattled companies across Asia and Europe, forcing them to stop production, cut hours and instruct employees to work from home. Dan Levin, who runs a plant outside Chicago that makes furniture and wall paneling, is starting to make similar plans. “There’s no playbook for this,” he said. “I’m kind of navigating this alone.”

Mr. Levin employs roughly 100 people at his plant in Rochelle, Ill. About half of them are engineers or estimators, while the rest work on the factory floor. In the event of a coronavirus outbreak, the estimators would be able to do most of their work at home, he said.

But engineering tasks are much harder to complete from a kitchen or living room. Mr. Levin said he would need to outsource that work to companies in other parts of the country.

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