ST PAUL, Minn. — Fear of the unknown surrounding the coronavirus COVID-19, as its threat reaches far beyond China, is forcing health departments across the country to prepare.
"Over the last few weeks we have been meeting weekly with health systems across the state along with the Minnesota Department of Health," said Dr. Rahul Koranne, President and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association.
After a recent tweet from the CDC urging U.S. businesses, hospitals and communities to prepare for a possible spread you may be asking what does this mean for you and your family - and how might you prepare for a worst case scenario.
"You’ll want to make sure you have enough food for a week, you want to make sure if you’re ill and you have medications, that you take, that you have enough medications for at least a week if not thirty days," said Dr. Jeff Vespa of North Memorial Health.
In addition to medications and non perishables doctors say if you test positive for COVID-19 its important to have a re-homing plan in place for those in your family who aren’t sick while you're quarantined at home.
Many people have taken matters into their own hands the last few days and purchased masks, which many online retailers are now sold out of. Doctors say before you run out and buy more masks, save your money as more research is needed.
"We need more information before we can say, 'Well you, know buy this mask.' Or inside the hospital we know what to do, but out in the community is it going to help? We don’t know yet," said Dr. Koranne.
"So the other types of masks that you might buy at the store or hardware store, stuff like that typically is not going to prevent in full the transmission of the virus," said Dr. Vespa.
With limited information from the CDC surrounding COVID-19 Dr. Koranne says while the state is preparing, the next step in preparation is gaining access to the proper testing kits which are currently only available in select states, to properly diagnose and treat any potential cases.
"Diagnosing and confirming whether somebody has this virus needs to be done in a timely fashion so that is one ask that we do have and we hope that the CDC will respond and get those kits available to us here, right here in Minnesota," said Dr. Karonne.