COVID-19 General Overview

covid-19Prevention & 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 COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). 

Anxiety is understandable and expected, and the Iowa Department of Public Health offers some suggestions for dealing with that anxiety. Be aware that scammers will take advantage of that anxiety.

Community Spread

There is Community Spread* of COVID-19 in Linn County and measures have been taken 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. While the community begins to move through the reopening phases, prior public health measures of social distancing and good hygiene to slow the spread of COVID-19 remain the same.

  • STAY HOME IF YOU FEEL ILL, no matter how mild the illness. Do not go to work. 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.
  • CONTINUE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING, keep at least 6 feet between you and others.
  • USE A CLOTH FACE COVERING if social distancing is not possible.
  • AVOID SOCIAL GATHERINGS in groups of more than 10 people.
  • 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.
  • DO NOT VISIT nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  • 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.

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. Learn more about community mitigation strategies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here.

*Community spread 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.

COVID-19 Testing

For questions about Test Iowa, contact the governor’s office or visit testiowa.com.

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 the number of 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 and additional testing resources become available):

  • Hospitalized patient (of any age) with fever or respiratory illness for diagnosis or any hospitalized patient prior to discharge to a long term care facility or other nursing care facility.
  • Older adult (> 60 years of age) with fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing) and chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease).
  • Person of any age with fever or respiratory illness who lives in a congregate setting (i.e., long term care facilities, dormitories, residential facilities, correctional facilities, treatment facilities).
  • Children being cared for in and staff working in childcare homes and childcare centers with fever or respiratory illness without alternative diagnosis.
  • Healthcare worker, essential services personnel, first responder or critical infrastructure worker with fever or respiratory illness (e.g., healthcare worker, fire, EMS, law enforcement, residential facility staff, food supply and water plant operators).

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. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Situation Summary