By Marielle Mohs

Stay Informed: Coronavirus Latest | COVID-19 Resources | Download CBS Minnesota App | CBSN Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Six weeks ago in Italy, there were three confirmed cases of COVID-19. Now there are more than 80,500 cases, and more than 8,000 have died.

READ MORE: 11 Injured, 3 Critically, In 7 Weekend Shootings In Minneapolis

Silvia Zironi was able to make it back to her home in south Minneapolis before Italy went on a nationwide lockdown three weeks ago. She left behind her family and friends who live in the province of Modena, which is in northern Italy.

Zironi left Modena on Feb. 14, and at the time, cases of COVID-19 were only popping up in Milan.

READ MORE: Minnesota Lawmakers Pass COVID-19 Response Bill

“We thought it’s happening there, but it will be contained, they are on it, so nobody was really worried about,” Zironi said.

Flash foward to today, where her family is now sending her pictures of the now-empty plaza, historic sites and streets in Modena that are normally packed with the more than 700,000 people who live there.

READ MORE: Sheriff: Miltona Man, 48, Killed In ATV Rollover

(credit: CBS)

“The measures have become so stricter that it’s not just fines or tickets that you get. Now the Italian government threatens jail time,” Zironi said.

Zironi says Americans have time on their side to learn from the countries who are further along in this spread.

“I think we have the luxury of time, even though we don’t think so,” Zironi said.

She hopes the U.S. takes the precautions, so one day soon she can return to the country she loves.

“Think about measures to protect the ones you love,” Zironi said. “You need to prepare for the worst and hope that it won’t happen.”

MORE NEWS: 'I Laid On The Floor And Just Bawled': Minnesota TikTok Sensation, 79, Overwhelmed By Support After Scooter Breaks

READ MORE: State Health Officials Warn Against ‘Cabin Quarantine’

Marielle Mohs