[Boston Herald] Emergency preppers on coronavirus: Get supplies ready, take the virus seriously now
As coronavirus spreads across the world and public health officials warn about more cases coming to the United States, emergency preparedness experts are urging Americans to stock up on supplies now so they can shelter at home for weeks.
"By the time it's clear that coronavirus is spreading here, good luck getting what you want - whether it's food, respirators or gloves," John Stokes of The Prepared told the Herald on Sunday. "The time to really take it seriously is now."
Fifteen Americans have been infected with the coronavirus as of Sunday. More than 69,000 people around the world have fallen ill with the coronavirus, including 68,500 cases in mainland China. More than 1,600 people have died from the coronavirus in China.
Stokes' advice for Americans - including being able to shelter at home for at least two weeks without leaving for supplies or outside help - is similar to information on the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Under the section "Coronavirus: Learn How to Stay Safe," the DHS website states that before a pandemic, people should "store a two week supply of water and food."
"Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home," DHS states. "Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins."
It seems "very, very possible" that Americans will face a time when they don't want to go outside, Stokes said.
He said The Prepared website is experiencing a surge of activity, where people are buying supplies, such as respirators and water filters.
While there's a "high likelihood" that a wave of coronavirus infections could spread through the U.S., John Brownstein of Boston Children's Hospital said such emergency preparedness strategies are not necessary in the short-term, yet.
"There are scenarios where those types of mitigation strategies, when people might be asked to stay in isolation, would be necessary," Brownstein said. "But we're not there yet."
People should be focusing on hygiene practices, said James Ramsay, an expert in emergency management planning at the University of New Hampshire.
"Wash your hands thoroughly. When you sneeze, cover your mouth completely," Ramsay said. "From a practical perspective, we just have to keep on doing what we're doing."
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