Metro health agencies say they’re ready for a coronavirus outbreak in USA

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Health departments in the metro area say they're ready in case a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus, labeled COVID-19, hits the United States.

Public health experts said the risk in the metro area remains low.

But agencies are preparing much the same way they have responded to other outbreaks, including measles and H1N1, which the region has experienced in recent years.

There is a concern that social media is spreading a lot of misinformation, prompting panic buying of face masks, disposable diapers and toilet paper. The Johnson County Health Department said stockpiling these sorts of supplies isn't necessary in most cases.

Health care professionals are urging the public to seek only accurate information from reliable websites, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

"I would not suggest that everybody go out and get face masks," Johnson County Health Services Division Director Nancy Tausz said.

"An example is when you go into your doctor’s office or urgent care. If someone comes in and they are actually sick, they will ask... them to probably put a mask on so that they don't spread the disease possibly to another person."

The CDC recommends that large employers and schools have plans in place for tele-learning and telecommuting just in case of a quarantine that requires a large segment of our population to stay home.

Although the situation is evolving, Tausz said the best advice continues to be: Stay home if you are sick. Don't send sick kids to school or daycare. Wash you hands frequently. And if you don't have soap, use an alcohol-based product.

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