As COVID-19 cases continue to climb, a CDC official said today at a press conference that most Americans will be exposed to the novel coronavirus this year or next.

“We do not expect most people will get a serious illness,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. But Messonnier cautioned that now is the time for the people who are most at risk for serious disease, including those over 60 or those with underlying health conditions, to take precautions.

“People at higher risk should avoid crowds, non-essential travel on longer plane rides, and cruises,” Messonnier said, referring to a State Department warning made over the weekend that said Americans, especially with underlying health conditions, should avoid cruises.

While most communities in America are not seeing widespread community transmission, Messonnier said she’s advising older people – including her parents – to stock up on medications, some Pixabaygroceries, and plan on avoiding close contact with people who seem sick.

Read more at CIDRAP…