COVID-19 cases in Linn County jump to 36, as the total number of cases in Iowa rises to 298

Tree of Five Seasons sculpture, Cedar Rapids — Zak Neumann/Little Village

On Saturday, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 64 more Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19, including three in Johnson County and 14 in Linn County.

• Benton County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

• Boone County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

• Buchanan County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

• Cedar County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

• Cerro Gordo County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

• Dallas County, 4 adults (18-40 years), 2 middle-aged (41-60 years)

• Dubuque County, 1 middle-aged (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)

• Fayette County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

• Harrison County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)

• Jasper County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

• Johnson County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)

• Keokuk County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

• Linn County, 6 adults (18-40 years), 5 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 3 older adults (61-80 years)

• Marshall County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 3 middle-aged adults (41-60 years)

• Muscatine County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 middle-aged adults (41-60 years)

• Polk County, 4 adults (18-40 years), 4 middle-aged (41-60 years), 3 older adults (61-80 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)

• Poweshiek County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

• Scott County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

• Shelby County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

• Tama County, 2 adults (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

• Taylor County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

The new cases bring the total number of confirmed cases reported by IDPH to 298. (A previously reported case in Black Hawk County is not from Iowa, according to IDPH.)

The total number of Johnson County residents diagnosed with COVID-19 is now 61. Linn County now has 36 confirmed cases.

The first case in Linn County was reported seven days ago, and county health leaders have been warning that hospitals could be overwhelmed if the county experiences a rapid rate of increase.

“Think of all the car wrecks that happen in the United States each year,” Dr. Dustin Arnold, chief medical officer of UnityPoint Health, explained at a Linn County Public Health (LCPH) press conference on Thursday. “What if they all happen on the same Tuesday? That would just overwhelm the health care system. So think of it from that perspective, that no matter how many ventilators we have, this illness all presented at the same time, it would simply overwhelm the health care system. That’s why we want to socially isolate and slow it down, slow down that spread.”

At the Saturday, March 21 press conference where the first positive case in Linn County was announced, LCPH Clinical Branch Supervisor Heather Meador said, “Many more Iowans will become ill in the coming days. It is imperative that all Iowans practice the guidance that we have been given to protect yourself and to protect our community.”

Meador began outlining LCPH’s guidance by stressing the “three C’s” — cover your cough, clean your hands and confine yourself at home — and the need for social distancing.

“Those with mild illness do not need to go to a health care provider, or to be tested to confirm that they have COVID-19,” Meador continued. “We want all Iowans, regardless of how mild an illness may be, to do the same things that we are asking of those who are moderately to severely ill.”

She then detailed what LCPH is recommending.

We’re asking all Iowans who are ill [to] stay home and isolate yourselves from others. Stay home and isolate yourself until you have been free of fever at least 72 hours — that is a full three days without the aid of medications.

Additionally, you need to have your symptoms improving over three days.

And finally, do not leave until you’ve had at least seven days passed from the onset of your symptoms.

All three of those should be completed before you return to work or to other activities.

Anyone who believes they need medical attention should call their health care provider first to allow the provider to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

Self-isolation is also recommended for anyone who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 but is still feeling well.

“We want you to stay home and isolate yourself from other people for at least 14 days from your last exposure,” Meador said.

People in self-isolation who don’t have any symptoms should monitor themselves for a fever by taking their temperature twice each day, Meador said. A temperature greater than 100.4 degrees constitutes a fever.

The self-isolated should also watch for coughs and any difficulty breathing.

“Family members or other persons who reside in your home may remain in the home with you [during the 14-day period], but stay in a specific room away from you, and, if possible, use a separate bathroom,” Meador said.

Others who live in the same home as a self-isolated person do not need to self-isolate if the potentially infected person never becomes ill. If the person does become ill, then everyone in the home needs to self-isolate.

Elected officials in both Linn County and Johnson County have been asking Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a shelter-in-place order, as governors in 26 other states have done, but Reynolds maintains such an order is currently unnecessary in Iowa.

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