NORTHWOOD, Iowa - With fear over the coronavirus growing around the time many families will embark on Spring Break, a North Iowa woman is advising people to use precaution.
Katie Burson and her family are stationed at a U.S. Army base in Japan, and were on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where 10 people were initially tested positive for the virus, forcing an immediate 2 week quarantine with all passengers required to stay in their rooms.
"It was an interesting moment. But we were like, 'this is out of our hands. We're going to do what they ask us to do. We don't have a choice.'"
At first, everyone was in reaction mode.
"There wasn't a meal served until about 1 p.m.. To have two little kids and no guidance on when they're going to eat is nerve wracking."
However, they made the best of their situation, by having extended play time for those 2 weeks, and getting outside on the balcony of their room for a bit of fresh air.
"Despite the virus spreading like wildfire, it was this beautiful moment in humanity as far as everybody writing thank you letters to the staff, and everybody smiling and pulling together and knowing what they're doing is good for the community."
Upon being cleared, having being tested negative, and arriving home, Burson and her family would remain under quarantine for another 2 weeks. This week, they crossed the halfway point. Even then, many have dropped off full meals and groceries and messages of encouragement for her family.
Back in the U.S., Katie's aunt Jennifer Lombard has been in contact with her niece and family through the quarantine period. Lombard herself does not have the virus.
"It's pretty scary to know that it was that close to home, even though they're living in Japan."
At her business, Lombard is making sure she and her employees don't contract it.
"You always worry about how many people have been exposed at one time. Have they been on an airplane that might have somebody who has coronavirus? It happens so quickly, and you don't know how many people are being exposed to it. We're taking precautions handling money and things like that. We've got the Germ-X, we have all the anti-bacterial stuff. As we're handling things, we're making sure we're as germ free as we can be."
So what can you do to protect yourself from the virus? Health officials strongly encourage to wash your hands with soap and water frequently, cover coughs and sneezes with your upper arm/elbow, and staying home when sick.
"If we can avoid it, we're going to."
So far, the Iowa Department of Public Health says no one has tested positive for the illness, and there has been no quarantine in Northwood.