Health officials are warning that the spread of coronavirus in the United States appears inevitable.

The comments were made in separate briefings to lawmakers and reporters on Tuesday, marking an escalation in tone and urgency.“Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in the United States,” Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters.

“It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses.”