CORONAVIRUS

Second care facility sees coronavirus outbreak in Linn County

Linn County Public Health COVID-19 count 'probably more up to date' than state totals

Linn Manor Care Center in Marion. (Google Street View image)
Linn Manor Care Center in Marion. (Google Street View image)
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MARION — Two residents have died of coronavirus at Linn Manor Care Center in Marion and three staff members have tested positive, Linn County Public Health reported Monday.

That level of positive cases is considered an outbreak, and the three ill staff members at the care center, 1140 Elm Dr., are isolating at home, Heather Meador, of Linn County Public Health, said at a news conference Monday.

At Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar Rapids, 17 residents have died of COVID-19, and at least 76 residents and employees there have tested positive for the virus, Meador said. Seventeen have recovered, she said.

Linn County Public Health is monitoring other long-term care facilities daily, and no other facilities in Linn County have had an outbreak of the virus.

Facilities fill out a survey every day, which asks about how much personal protective equipment they have and if any staff or residents are sick.

“We are working with long-term care facilities to monitor, so we can spot these issues earlier rather than later,” Meador said.

Meador attributes “contact tracing” — meaning people in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 — to Linn County’s high number of positive COVID-19 tests, the most of any county in Iowa.

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As of Monday, Linn County had 265 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 20 deaths caused by the virus, and 97 people who have recovered, Meador said.

Those totals are slightly higher than the numbers reported by the state public health department, which on Monday put Linn’s confirmed cases at 258, with 19 deaths.

Linn County’s COVID-19 count differs slightly from the state’s because the pandemic is a “fluid situation,” Meador said.

The state reports numbers on a 24-hour schedule, Meador said, and Linn County’s numbers are more likely to be up to date.

“People are continually becoming ill. People are continually recovering,” Meador said. “We have deaths being reported throughout the day. The numbers are not going to be consistent with the state report).”

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, Meador said, health officials contact the people they’ve come in contact with. Those contacts are told to self-isolate; told the symptoms of COVID-19; and monitored for symptoms.

The public health staff is not predicting when virus cases might peak.

“We won’t know until after we’ve hit that peak,” Meador said. “The more we flatten the curve, that will take the stress off our health care infrastructure to take care of those who are sick, but you also lengthen how long it will take to get through this.”

Meador urged residents to work past “quarantine fatigue” and continue to follow recommendations to self-isolate to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

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“We all are grieving the loss of our routines, the loss of school for our children, the loss of employment, the loss of social interaction, and, for some, the loss of a loved one,” Meador said. “Many people in our community are anxious, stressed, confused, angry. These are normal emotions during this time of crisis.

“If we let up on our actions to control the spread of the virus, this virus spreads quickly,” Meador said. “If we all do our part, we can save lives until we finally reach the end of this marathon.”

Dr. Tony Myers, with Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital is seeing an average of two patients admitted with COVID-19 each day. About 30 percent of patients require mechanical ventilation, he said.

While two patients a day may not seem like much, the patients who come to the hospital tend to be there for “quite a while,” Myers said.

However, Myers is reassured by the numbers, which are “within the capacity of critical care.”

“The people who are social distancing are doing it very well,” Myers said. “I understand what an imposition it is on their lives. ... All those things together are impacting the trend and the number of cases we’re seeing, allowing the hospitals the ability to take care of people.”

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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