The full video of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ news conference announcing three presumptive COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Iowa.
Des Moines Register
Johnson County public health officials are working to determine who has been within 6 feet of the three Johnson County residents who have tested presumptively positive for COVID-19.
In an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, the Johnson County Public Health Department is helping conduct a “close-contact investigation” with the Iowa Department of Public Health. Those who have had exposure to residents who tested positive have been asked by Johnson County Public Health to self-quarantine.
Public health officials are asking Johnson County residents to wash their hands regularly, and if sick, to cover coughs, stay home and stay hydrated.
“The best preventative measures are the ones that we mention throughout the flu season every year,” said Sam Jarvis, Johnson County Public Health Community Health Manager.
Older residents and those with chronic health concerns should be especially cautious as they may be more susceptible to serious health problems if they contract COVID-19, said Dr. Jorge Salinas, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics epidemiologist.
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Sunday that three people had tested presumptively positive for the novel coronavirus. The three patients — one middle-aged and two older patients — tested positive for the virus after returning March 3 from a cruise that traveled through Egypt.
The State Hygienic Lab on the University of Iowa campus has tested at least 37 patients for COVID-19. Salinas said UIHC staff are working with public health officials in the close-contact investigation into the three Johnson County patients.
Salinas expects to see more COVID-19 cases; he said Iowans need to be vigilant about preventing the spread of the disease.
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“The intention here is to try to decrease, if not eliminate, the possibility of transmission in the community. But transmission may occur in the community,” Salinas said. “So all of our efforts in society need to be in place so we slow the transmission chain, so we don’t have a big surge in patients that may overwhelm medical systems, such as what occurred in Wuhan cities.”
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The state hygienic lab received materials to test 500 patients for the disease. Those being tested include people who have come in close contact with the three people who tested positive in Johnson County and people who have traveled to countries with large ongoing outbreaks — such as South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan, Salinas said.
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“Everyone who has a respiratory illness will likely not be tested for coronavirus,” Salinas said. “If somebody has those symptoms, it is still more likely that they have influenza than anything else.”
It’s not a “surprise” that the disease has reached Johnson County, but Jarvis is hesitant to speculate too far into the future about the spread of the virus.
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“It should not come to a surprise to anyone,” Jarvis said. “We’ve seen the spread of coronavirus in the U.S.”
In the meantime, UIHC is taking precautions that are typical around flu seasons, such as providing face masks to medical care providers and patients who have coughing symptoms.
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“Our providers here and elsewhere in the country are used to using these kinds of precautions,” Salinas said. “But we’re maximizing the quality. We want to make sure everyone is properly trained in most effectively using these measures.”
Salinas said it’s up to Johnson County residents to step up to prevent the spread and, if possible, avoid straining hospital resources.
“If you are healthy, if you are younger than 50 years of age, if you don’t have chronic conditions, you may not need to be seen by a doctor,” Salinas said. “Stay at home, remain hydrated, don’t go to work or to school. Those are probably the best measures we can take as a society.”
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