CORONAVIRUS

First death recorded in Linn County due to coronavirus, 38 new cases across Iowa

A screening tent is set up outside of UnityPoint St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 27, 2020. (Rebecca
A screening tent is set up outside of UnityPoint St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 27, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County has recorded its first death as a result of the novel coronavirus as the number of positive cases in Linn and Johnson counties continues grow among the fastest in the state.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported Sunday that a Linn County resident with COVID-19 had died Saturday night. It marked the fourth death in Iowa as a result of the virus since the first known cases in the state were found earlier this month.

Linn County Public Health officials described the victim as a man between 61 and 80 with other health issues.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends who are grieving, and remind everyone to continue to take the necessary steps to minimize your exposure to COVID-19,” Linn County Public Health Director Pramod Dwivedi said in a statement. “Our top priority continues to be protecting the health of our community. All of us must do our part to stop the spread of this novel coronavirus, by staying at home as much as possible, and by practicing good social distancing.”

Local and state officials declined to tell the public any details surrounding the death, including whether the man had been receiving medical care or was quarantined from others.

Linn County, which learned of its first known positive case only a week ago, recorded 20 new positive cases over the weekend and is now one of the fastest growing hubs of the virus in the state.

Johnson County leads the state with 65 positive cases, followed by Polk County with 50 and Linn County with 42, according to the state public health department.

At least 50 of Iowa’s 99 counties now have positive cases.

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Thirty-eight cases of Iowans with COVID-19 were announced Sunday, for a total of 336 positive cases across the state, according to the governor’s office. A total of 5,013 negative tests have been logged to date.

The new cases include nine people in the 18-to-40 age range; 14 who are 41-60; 14 who are older than 60; and one younger than 18. A quarter of new cases are people aged 40 or younger. This weekend, the state saw a 43 percent surge in cases.

“Because of the incubation period of the virus, because it is 14 days, we’ve been expecting an increase of positive cases during this time,” Reynolds said. “We expect that it will continue as Iowans have recently traveled for spring break and have been exposed to the virus are still in that period.”

Increased capacity for testing has also ramped up the number of positives, she noted.

“It should be every Iowa’s assumption that the virus is currently circulating in their communities,” said Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the state Health Department.

Testing is being reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. Locations and age ranges of the 38 individuals reported Sunday include:

• Cedar County: one older adult (61-80 years);

• Cerro Gordo County: one adult (18-40 years), one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);

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

• Dubuque County: one child (under 18), two middle-aged adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Henry County: one older adult (61-80 years);

• Iowa County: one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);

• Jasper County: one older adult (61-80 years);

• Johnson County: two adults (18-40), two middle-aged adults (41-60 years);

• Linn County: one adult (18-40 years), three middle-aged adults (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years);

• Marshall County: one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);

• Polk County: two adults (18-40 years), two middle-aged adults (41-60 years), five older adults (61-80 years), one elderly adult (81+);

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

• Washington County: one middle-aged adult (41-60 years), one elderly adult (81+);

• Winneshiek County: one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);

• And Woodbury County: one adult (18-40 years).

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A hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available around the clock at 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

Sick Iowans are urged to stay home and isolate themselves from others in their house. Those who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are encouraged to self-isolated for 14 days. If symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath emerge, people are urged to call first before going to a health care provider.

Precautions being encouraged include maintaining 6 feet of distance between people, washing hands, limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people and limiting trips out of the house.

Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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