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Public Health

Posted on: November 12, 2020

Linn County Public Health Updates COVID-19 Close Contact Definition and Releases Additional Guidance

COVID-19 Update

LINN COUNTY, IA – Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Linn County continue to climb to unprecedented numbers since the pandemic first began. This increase in cases within a short amount of time will also push our healthcare system towards a critical level, affecting bed and staff capacity to care for ill patients. In response to this threat, and to protect the health and safety of our community, Linn County Public Health (LCPH) has updated its close contact definition; and recommends additional actions to combat this increase. 

Effective today, LCPH will utilize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) close contact recommendations for COVID-19. Close contact is defined as: 

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period, starting from 2 days before illness onset or testing. 
  • Living in the same household as a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them).
  • Being sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you from a COVID-19 infected individual.

Close contact includes all of the above, regardless of mask use. Close contacts will be expected to quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. If a close contact develops symptoms of COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19, they should isolate. People who are in isolation should stay home until it is safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available) until ALL the following criteria is met below:  

  • No fever for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine that reduces fevers. 
  • Symptoms have improved (e.g., cough or shortness of breath have improved). 
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. 

At this time, LCPH is also recommending additional actions be taken to address the significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Linn County. Mitigation guidance outlines recommended actions across three tiers. The following health metrics are used to determine when the spread of the virus requires additional restrictive actions be taken or loosened:

  • Statistically significant increase in new cases over 7 days AND one of the following: 
    1. Sustained 7-day increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 illness, OR 
    2. reduction in hospital capacity (ICU capacity or medical surgical beds under 20%). 
  • OR, test positivity rate greater than or equal to 8% over three consecutive days.

Lastly, as we approach the holiday season, relaxing previous measures of maintaining a physical distance, wearing a face covering, staying home when ill, and practicing good hygiene to slow community spread of COVID-19 will push our healthcare system beyond capacity. LCPH urges everyone to review the Fall and Winter Holiday Guidance and continue the general mitigation measures above; and to consider your health, and the health of those around you, when choosing how to celebrate this holiday season.  

For more information, please see the following links: 

LCPH is experiencing a large number of phone calls and email messages. COVID related concerns and questions will be answered as soon as possible. For more information on COVID-19, visit: 

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