WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday it expects the coronavirus will spread in the U.S. and asked citizens to prepare.

A doctor at the CDC said it’s not a matter of if, but when the virus spreads in the U.S.

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“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad,” Doctor Nancy Messonnier said.

Right now, there are at least 53 cases in the U.S.

Thirty-nine were passengers on a cruise ship in Japan.

Maryland has no confirmed cases, but some residents are still worried.

“I think it can be a problem. I’ve heard it spread pretty quickly, so I think it’s something people should at least take precautions,” Jordan Byrd, a Baltimore resident, said.

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“I don’t know how prepared we are to deal with something like this,” Jeff Buckley, a Baltimore resident, said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there are only 30 million respirators or facemasks currently available, but they’ll need 300 million in a crisis.

He said a plan is in place to contain the virus.

“People shouldn’t panic when we see new cases,” Azar said. “They should know the government predicted we would have them and we have plans in place.”

As the coronavirus continues to be a hot topic, here in Maryland, some want to focus on a more common problem; the flu.

“There are so many different strains of flu that can kill people,” Integra Campbell, a Baltimore resident, said. “There is no reason to panic about it.”

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At last check, two people were tested for the coronavirus here in Maryland, but the results were negative.

Ava-joye Burnett