• COVID-19 continues to rage outside the U.S., and is making fearful inroads into South Korea
  • South Korea is the second hardest hit country from COVID-19
  • Despite this, Wall Street might see a rally Wednesday

Antsy Wall Street investors that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average lose close to 1,900 points Monday and Tuesday are expected to remain spooked by the dire warning a coronavirus outbreak in the United States is all but inevitable.

The news from the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19 is adding to investor gloom. The United States thus far has 53 confirmed COVID-19 cases, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of this total, 14 are people diagnosed in the United States and 39 are Americans repatriated from China (the outbreak's Ground Zero) and from the cruise ship Diamond Princess still quarantined in Yokohama harbor in Japan.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), which has a website providing real time COVID-19 tracking data, has since updated the numbers to 57 cases in the U.S., 81,002 cases worldwide and 2,762 deaths as of Wednesday, 1:13pm, Hong Kong time. There are 1,146 cases in South Korea, about half of which are associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus based in the southeastern city of Daegu.

The updated CSSE totals compares to the toll early Wednesday morning, Hong Kong time, when China reported 80,385 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, as well as 2,711 deaths. Of this total, 77,658 cases were in mainland China, which also accounts for 2,663 deaths. South Korea, the second hardest hit country, reported 977 cases and 11 deaths.

Over the past two days, Wall Street investors saw the benchmark S&P 500 plummet a jaw-dropping $1.7 trillion. The S&P 500 nosedived 6.3% Monday and Tuesday, making this the biggest two-day drop since August 2015.

There are positive indications for Wednesday's trading, however. As of 10:23 p.m. ET Tuesday, Dow futures have risen 177 points, hinting at an implied opening gain of 236.54 points on Wednesday, CNBC noted. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ futures also indicate opening gains Wednesday. There is no guarantee the opening gains will be sustained as the day goes on. This was exactly the situation Tuesday when all three indices started in the green but plunged deep into red territory as the day wore on.

Remaining a dark cloud on the immediate horizon is the CDC warning Tuesday COVID-19 will “likely” continue to spread throughout the United States. CDC also said Americans should “prepare for the expectation that this is going to be bad.” A U.S. outbreak is now inevitable, said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the CDC.

“We expect we will see community spread in this country,” warned Messonier. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but the rather more correct question to be asking is, ‘When this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness?’”

South Korea has the largest national total of coronavirus cases anywhere outside China
South Korea has the largest national total of coronavirus cases anywhere outside China AFP / Jung Yeon-je