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Linn County moves to second phase of reopening, additional long-term care outbreak reported in the county

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Tables at Rodina in Cedar Rapids, Dec. 9, 2019. — Jav Ducker/Little Village

Linn County has met all the necessary criteria to move onto phase two of the county’s phased reopening approach, Linn County Public Health said on Wednesday.

LCPH released a phased reopening approach on May 14, a day before various businesses were allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity. LCPH began monitoring 10 disease and resource metrics on May 15.

“The first phase of the reopening process is necessary to slow community spread of COVID-19 and avoid overwhelming the local health care system,” LCPH Clinical Services Supervisor Heather Meador said at a May press conference. “During this phase, recommendations are for limited operations when reopening. The risk of transmission increases as the number of those in attendance grows.”

The metrics (which are online) are categorized under epidemiology, health care and public health and all needed to be met before moving onto phase two. The following criteria were met on Wednesday, June 10:

Epidemiology
• Decreased test positive rate for at least 14 days
• Sustained reduction in number of cases for at least 14 days
• Decrease in deaths for at least 14 days

Health care
• Sufficient personal protective equipment for all health care workers, even if cases double
• Sufficient face masks available to provide to patients seeking care, even if cases double
• More discharges than admissions for COVID-19 within a seven day period

Public health
• All cases interviewed for contact elicitation
• Contacts elicited for at least 90 percent of cases
• Capacity to monitor all confirmed cases and their contacts
• Capacity to test all people who are symptomatic

The second phase, according to the LCPH guidance documents, recommends businesses continue many of the limited operations in phase one with a slight expansion. LCPH has guidance for various businesses and a list of actions of what is recommended in each of the three phases.

In order to move from phase two to phase three, the same criteria needs to be met, as well as a reduction in cases for an additional 14 days. A vaccine or treatment option “must be available to recommend discontinuing physical/social distancing,” according to the metrics website.

Phase three includes a return to “normal operations” with some mitigation guidance still in place, such as staying home when sick, hand washing and having hand sanitizer available.

Linn County also announced Wednesday that county buildings will begin a phased reopening approach on July 20 with “modifications in place to keep employees and customers safe.” Most county buildings will conduct their businesses by appointment only.

Long-term care facility outbreak in Marion

A long-term care facility in Marion is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19. Eleven residents and staff at Willow Gardens Care Center have tested positive for the virus between June 5 and 9, according to LCPH.

The affected residents will remain in isolation for 14 days.

“We have been and continue to do everything we can to ensure we stop the spread of this virus within our facility and have increased our emergency response procedures. We are working with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking the appropriate steps at this time. At this point, all precautions will remain in place within the building until the virus has been eradicated,” Willow Gardens administrator Casey Kann said in a news release.

The overall number of long-term care outbreaks in Linn County is six, but there are four current long-term care outbreaks since two facilities have recovered. Heritage Specialty Care and Cottage Grove Place, both in Cedar Rapids, have had no new cases reported for 28 consecutive days, which is two incubation periods.

As of Thursday morning, LCPH is reporting 1,029 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. A total of 910 people have recovered and 80 have died.

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