CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus death toll up to 7 in Iowa

73 new cases announced, 19 of them in Linn County

JOHNSTON — Another Iowan died and more residents tested positive Tuesday for the coronavirus, a tally now approaching 500 confirmed cases in the state — including a surge in Linn County fueled by an outbreak at the Heritage Specialty Care facility.

Iowa Department of Public Health officials reported the number of Iowans who have died due to COVID-19 rose to seven, with the latest victim being a middle-aged resident of Muscatine County between 41 and 60 years old.

“COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate,” Gov. Kim Reynolds told an afternoon news conference. “It spreads quickly and easily, infecting young and old alike. But the virus is far more serious for older adults above the age of 60 with underlying health conditions and that’s why nursing homes and long-term care facilities were identified early on as a high priority for mitigation efforts.”

She confirmed that 30 of the 90 total cases in Linn County are tied to Heritage Specialty Care, a Cedar Rapids nursing home that first reported an outbreak Monday. An outbreak in a long-term care facility is defined as three or more residents testing positive. Last week, two members of its staff tested positive, according to a spokesman. A few days later, four residents were infected.

The family of a Linn County man living at Heritage Specialty Care who died Sunday confirmed to The Gazette his death was a result of COVID-19. The family declined to identify the individual or comment further on his illness.

Infected residents are isolated in a segregated section of the facility and cared for by a dedicated team of staff members, officials said in a statement Tuesday. All direct care staff wear personal protective equipment throughout the day and all other employees wear face masks “at a minimum,” officials said.

“We will continue to put the safety and needs of our residents first and foremost,” a Heritage statement read.

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State health officials Tuesday added 73 positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 497. Reynolds also reported that Tuesday brought 726 negative results for a 6,888 overall total.

Currently, 61 Iowans are hospitalized with coronavirus-related illnesses or symptoms, while another 85 have been discharged and recovered. Another 268 Iowans who have tested positive have not required hospitalization.

Reynolds stressed the need for Iowans to continue to observe social distancing and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, stay home if they are mildly sick, venture out only for food and medical necessities and work from home as much as possible.

Those mitigation steps, she said, are designed to avoid shelter-at-home directives or actions to close more businesses that could hurt Iowa’s supply chain.

“I can’t lock the state down. I can’t lock everybody in their home,” Reynolds said.

Also Tuesday, Reynolds extended Iowa’s public health emergency order until April 7 allowing bars and restaurants to provide carryout or delivery of alcoholic beverages and authorizing the sale of mixed drinks and cocktails for carryout or delivery. The proclamation also provided county hospitals greater borrowing flexibility, permitted electronic corporate annual meetings, and eased certification requirements for law enforcement officers.

According to Health Department numbers released Tuesday, Linn County continues to lead all counties with 90 positive cases, followed by Polk County with 76 and Johnson County with 73. A total of 57 of Iowa’s 99 counties have at least one positive case.

A total of 264 women and 233 men have tested positive, with the 41-60 age range the highest with 176 total cases.

The locations and age ranges of the 73 individuals include:

• Black Hawk County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

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

• Clay County, one adult (18-40 years);

• Clinton County, two middle-age adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Dallas County, four adults (18-40 years);

• Harrison County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years)

• Iowa County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Jasper County, one elderly adult (81+);

• Johnson County, two adults (18-40 years), one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Jones County, two adults (18-40 years), one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Keokuk County, one adult (18-40 years);

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• Linn County, three adults (18-40 years), seven middle-age adults (41-60 years), seven older adults (61-80 years), two elderly adults (81+);

• Marshall County, one adult (18-40 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Muscatine County, two middle-age adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Polk County, one child (up to 17), five adults (18-40 years), three middle-age adults (41-60 years), four older adult (61-80 years), two elderly adults (81+);

• Pottawattamie County, one middle-age (41-60 years);

• Scott County, two middle-age adults (41-60 years);

• Sioux County, one middle age adult (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Tama County, one adult (18-40 years);

• Warren County, two middle-age (41-60 years);

• And Washington County, three adults (18-40 years), two older adults (61-80 years), one elderly adult (81+).

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

Michaela Ramm of The Gazette contributed to this report.

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

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