NOVEL CORONAVIRUS & COVID-19
Linn County’s highest priority is the health and well-being of the community. Linn County Public Health, a department within Linn County government, is working closely with Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as local public officials and private partners to plan for prevention, spread, and response to the expanding global outbreak of COVID-19. Everyone is encouraged to follow all Iowa Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines to help prevent contracting or spreading the virus. This site provides links to resources at the federal, state, and local levels. The site will be updated daily as needed with the latest updates.
This is a rapidly evolving situation at the national, state, and local levels. Agencies are working to provide updated information to the public as quickly as it becomes available. For general questions, please call 211.
Last Update: 03/26/2020 09:22 PM
Prevention & Response
In coordination with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Linn County Public Health (LCPH) and local healthcare partners continue to work together to plan for prevention and response to the expanding global outbreak of COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). IDPH updates its COVID-19 webpage every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with current data on Iowans being monitored or tested for this new coronavirus, and what the test results are. The page is also updated immediately with new information as necessary.
Community spread, which happens when individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, including no identified travel-related risk or exposure to a known case, has been identified throughout the state of Iowa. Due to known community spread in our area, measures should be taken now to slow the spread of the virus. Commonly referred to as "flattening the curve", social distancing strategies are important in slowing the spread of a virus so that fewer people need to seek treatment at any given time. Following current social distancing and mass gathering guidelines will help reduce the burden of COVID-19 on our healthcare system. This includes hospital beds, healthcare providers, and other resources needed to treat patients with respiratory disease related to COVID-19.
Learn about these community mitigation strategies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here. These actions don’t just protect you. They help keep our whole community safe, especially our residents most vulnerable to COVID-19, by slowing the spread of the disease. Some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness.
PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING
- Keep at least 6 feet between you and others.
- AVOID SOCIAL GATHERINGS in groups of more than 10 people
- IF YOU FEEL SICK, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.
- IF YOUR CHILDREN ARE SICK, keep them at home. Contact your medical provider.
- IF SOMEONE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD HAS TESTED POSITIVE for the coronavirus, keep the entire household at home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.
- IF YOU ARE AN OLDER PERSON, stay home and away from other people.
- IF YOU ARE A PERSON WITH A SERIOUS UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITION that can put you at increased risk, stay home and away from other people.
- Work or engage in schooling FROM HOME whenever possible.
- IF YOU WORK IN A CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE INDUSTRY, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. You and your employers should follow CDC guidance to protect your health at work.
- USE DRIVE-THRU, PICKUP, OR DELIVERY OPTIONS to patronize local restaurants.
- AVOID DISCRETIONARY TRAVEL, shopping trips, and social visits.
- DO NOT VISIT nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE
- Wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used items or surface
- Avoid touching your face
- Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow
- Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible
Anxiety is understandable and expected during this time. Many have also voiced concern and frustration when not being able to receive a test when requested. This is due to the limited number of test kits that are currently available. The State Hygienic Lab and the Iowa Department of Public Health have been working together to follow testing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of kits available is fluid as kits are used and new kits continually arrive. However, our state hygienic lab has had ample supplies to be able to perform testing on each specimen received.
Orders for lab tests are not required to be submitted to the Iowa Department of Public Health or the county public health department. Therefore, Linn County Public Health does not know how many tests have been ordered. A positive test for COVID-19 is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Information regarding positive test results can be found at: https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus.
As of March 12, 2020, the IDPH no longer needs to provide medical providers with pre-approval in advance of testing. Throughout the day, tests are ordered and results arrive. The number of pending tests change by the hour, if not sooner. Multiple laboratories are able to process these tests that are ordered, with varying result times impacted by demand. As of March 15, 2020, turnaround time for these tests are 3 to 4 days from the time of specimen pick-up, while test results from the State Hygienic Lab should be available in approximately 24-48 hours dependent on the time of collection and transport to the lab. The State Hygienic Laboratory will perform COVID-19 testing in accordance with one of the following criteria (these criteria may broaden as the pandemic expands):
- All hospitalized patients with fever and respiratory failure and no alternate diagnosis
- Older adults (over 60 years of age) with fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing) and chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease)
- Persons with fever or respiratory illness who live in congregate setting (i.e., long term care facilities, dormitories, residential facilities, correctional facilities, treatment facilities)
- Essential services personnel with fever or respiratory illness (i.e., healthcare providers, fire and EMS, law enforcement, residential facility staff)
History of COVID-19
The CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of COVID-19, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The first case in the United States was announced on January 21, 2020. On Sunday, March 8, 2020, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced three presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in residents of Johnson County, Iowa. On Saturday, March 14, evidence of community spread in Iowa was announced.