CORONAVIRUS

Linn County health board: Going out? 'You are risking your life'

It endorses 'shelter-in-place' order to limit deaths

Downtown Cedar Rapids in October 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Downtown Cedar Rapids in October 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Linn County Board of Health is warning the public if they leave their homes, they could be “risking their lives.”

The warning is part of a public letter released on Friday in a county with by far the most cases of COVID-19 and also the most deaths in Iowa. The total grows each day, and efforts to issue a shelter-at-home order has been shot down by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has sole authority.

“Think about it this way: Every time you go out in public, you are risking your life,” the letter states. “This should cause all of us to be incredibly discerning about which trips and errands are essential.”

The board is made up of five public and private sector individuals, including Chairwoman Mary Tarbox, who holds a doctoral degree in nursing; Leslie Wright, of United Way of East Central Iowa; Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker; Karl Cassell, a business executive and civic leader; and James Levett, a medical doctor.

The letter endorsed a “shelter-in-place” order for the state, which also has been recommended by the Iowa Board of Medicine and Iowa Medical Society.

The letter states that through “shared commitment to adopting and implementing all preventive measures” recommended by experts, “the scope and extent of our loss” can be limited.

“Since there is no vaccine for COVID-19 at the present time, a shelter-in-place order appears to be the strongest mechanism to significantly reduce public interactions, which in turn should slow the transmission rate,” the letter states.

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“We understand that one measure alone will not end this virus, but we do know that when taken together, these measures will give our community and our country the best chance at surviving this pandemic with minimal loss of life, which is our chief concern.”

Limiting social interaction would ease the burden on the health care system, which would increase its ability to respond to those with the virus, the board stated, urging residents to follow precautions.

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

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