How to protect yourself from coronavirus

It's too soon to say when the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 will begin to spread in the U.S. or how severe it will be. The CDC's Dr. Nancy Messonnier says it is time to start preparing for what is looking more and more like a pandemic.

"I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming, and the disruption to our every day lives may seem severe," Dr. Messonnier says. "But, these are things people need to start thinking about now."

So, what can you and your family do to prepare?

If you're a parent, Messonnier says, ask your child's school or daycare if they have a pandemic plan.

"These are things people need to start thinking about now."

— Dr. Nancy Messonnier, CDC

RELATED: GM: 200 traveling through Atlanta airport showed possible coronavirus symptoms

In an outbreak, the CDC says, schools may reduce class size, or, if the situation is severe enough, they may close down. You will need to be ready for that. If you are a working parent, start looking for backup childcare, should schools close.

Next, ask your employer if you can work from home during an outbreak.

As countries struggle to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to start preparing for what is looking more and more like a pandemic.

Atlanta-based UPS has 495,000 employees and about 14,000 of them work in Georgia. The company says many of its office-based employees are able to telecommute, and the company has deferred non-critical international business travel.

A COVID-19 outbreak could also make it harder to see the doctor.

The CDC says hospitals may have to triage patients differently, limit in-person doctor visits, and cancel elective surgeries.

RELATED: US testing capacity for coronavirus delayed amid ‘inconclusive’ results from kits distributed by CDC

Ask your doctor about telemedicine options, if you do get sick.

Lastly, step up your germ game. Wipe down shared surfaces frequently, using a disinfectant that can kill germs. Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds at a time.

And, avoid touching your face. If you do get sick, stay home.