Forget the mask; prepare for possibility of quarantine, coronavirus experts say

Amid global focus on coronavirus spread, local authorities focus on precautionary measures, testing availability

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – There are no confirmed coronavirus cases in South Florida, but authorities are advising residents to practice good hygiene, which can also prevent the spread of the flu.

There are 60 cases in six U.S. states: California, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin. There have been more than 83,000 people infected with the virus, also known as COVID-19. The World Health Organization is watching several countries closely.

The latest fatality reports: China reported 2,788 deaths, Iran reported 26, Italy reported 15, South Korea reported 13, Japan reported 8, Hong Kong reported 2, France reported 2, Taiwan reported 1 death and the Phillippines reported 1 death.

Since the cases in the U.S. are travel-related, some companies are advising people to avoid nonessential travel overseas. If travel out of the country is necessary, experts say it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of travel disruptions due to the coronavirus and have emergency cash.

Experts say wearing a face surgical mask is not necessary if you are not sick. The N95 masks are meant to prevent people from spreading the disease and for health care workers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Despite their advice, the supply of masks is running low in some stores in South Florida amid a global run on sales. Walgreens, Home Depot and Lowe’s are among the stores reporting an increase in demand in the U.S.

While local authorities in South Florida are working on contingency plans, some residents are also trying to find ways to prepare for the possibility of the virus spreading.

Here is a list of essentials some people who are under a coronavirus quarantine overseas believe you will need if the virus spreads where you live and authorities force a quarantine:

- A month supply of vital medications, pain killers, decongestants, vitamins

- Stock on a month supply of bottled water, food and snacks

- Stock on toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, pet food and litter.

- Prepare financially for the possibility of not being able to work outside from home for about a month.

The latest figures as of Friday

The Associated Press

FIE - In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, people line up to buy face masks from a medical supply company in Nanning in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks despite medical experts' advice that most people who aren't sick don't need to wear them. (Chinatopix via AP, File) (Chinatopix)

— Mainland China: 2,788 deaths among 78,824 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei

— Hong Kong: 92 cases, 2 deaths

— Macao: 10 cases

— South Korea: 2,022 cases, 13 deaths

— Japan: 918 cases, including 705 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 8 deaths

Nuns talks to paramedics at a tent set up by the Italian Civil Protection next to the emergency ward of the Piacenza hospital, northern Italy, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Italy is changing how it reports coronavirus cases and who will get tested in ways that could lower the country's caseload even as an outbreak centered in northern Italy spreads in Europe. (Claudio Furlan/Lapresse via AP) (LaPresse)

— Italy: 650 cases, 15 deaths

A woman helps his boy to put on a mask in downtown Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Amid fear and uncertainty caused by the spread of a new virus, Iranians are taking extra caution to avoid getting infected, as authorities canceled Friday prayers in Tehran, Qom and other cities. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

— Iran: 254 cases, 26 deaths

— Singapore: 96

— Kuwait: 43

— Thailand: 40

— Bahrain: 33

People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus as they visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. As the worst-hit areas of Asia continued to struggle with a viral epidemic, with hundreds more cases reported Thursday in South Korea and China, worries about infection and containment spread across the globe. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

— Taiwan: 32 cases, 1 death

— Australia: 23

— Malaysia: 23

— Germany: 21

French lab scientists in hazmat gear inserting liquid in test tube manipulate potentially infected patient samples at Pasteur Institute in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Scientists at the Pasteur Institute developed and shared a quick test for the new virus that is spreading worldwide, and are using genetic information about the coronavirus to develop a potential vaccine and treatments. (AP Photo/Francois Mori) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

— France: 38 cases, 2 deaths

— Spain: 17

— Vietnam: 16

— United Kingdom: 15

— United Arab Emirates: 19

— Canada: 14

— Iraq: 6

— Russia: 5

— Switzerland: 5

— Oman: 6

— Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death

— India: 3

— Croatia: 3

— Greece: 3

— Israel: 3

— Lebanon: 3

— Pakistan: 2

— Finland: 2

— Austria: 2

— Sweden: 7

— Egypt: 1

— Algeria: 1

— Afghanistan: 1

— North Macedonia: 1

— Georgia: 1

— Estonia: 1

— Belgium: 1

— Netherlands: 1

— Romania: 1

— Nepal: 1

— Sri Lanka: 1

— Cambodia: 1

— Norway: 1

— Denmark: 1

— Brazil 1

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.