CORONAVIRUS

14 coronavirus deaths tied to Cedar Rapids nursing home

Heritage Specialty Care, 200 Clive Dr. SW, in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Heritage Specialty Care, 200 Clive Dr. SW, in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The death toll tied to the coronavirus outbreak at a Cedar Rapids nursing home has risen to 14, an investigator told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Those who have died after contracting COVID-19 at Heritage Specialty Care “were all residents, as far as I know,” said Alisha Weber, the lead investigator for the Linn County Medical Examiner’s office.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has said at least 76 residents and employees at the facility have become infected, which represents about one-third of the people who live or work there. Until now, public health officials and the company that manages the facility had refused to release information about how many have died.

The home’s outbreak has been the worst in Iowa and helped give Linn County the highest number of known infections and deaths out of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Officials have said that the outbreak, and others at nursing homes in Tama and Washington counties, have accounted for around 10 percent of Iowa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and 40 percent or more of the state’s deaths.

Overall cases in Iowa rose to 1,510 on Saturday, an increase of 122 that was in line with the two previous days. The number of deaths rose by three, to 34.

Weber said the Linn County medical examiner’s office has handled 16 deaths in which the individual tested positive for COVID-19. All but two have come from the Heritage facility.

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Iowa Department of Public Health statistics put Linn County’s COVID-19 death toll at 12 as of Saturday and its total cases at 235.

Weber said one death handled by her office was a resident of another county and therefore wasn’t included in Linn County’s total. Others, including one on Saturday, may be too new to show up in the state count, she said.

Statistics released Saturday show that 11,000-population Louisa County is also experiencing a surge in cases, climbing by 14 to 70. The rural county is home to the Tyson Foods plant in Columbus Junction, which temporarily shut down last week after more than two dozen workers tested positive. Its neighbor, Muscatine County, has also seen a spike in recent days.

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