CORONAVIRUS

Five more cases of coronavirus in Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds discusses COVID-19 with other state officials during her weekly news conference on Tuesday. (Screen im
Gov. Kim Reynolds discusses COVID-19 with other state officials during her weekly news conference on Tuesday. (Screen image from Gov. Reynolds’ Facebook video)

Five additional presumptive positive results among Iowans for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, was announced by state officials Tuesday evening.

The five older adults, who were on the same Egyptian cruise as seven other Johnson County residents and also tested positive for the respiratory virus, bring the state total to 13. These new cases also reside in Johnson County.

These individuals — all of whom are self-isolating and recovering at home — are between the ages of 61 and 80 years old.

Another individual, in Pottawattamie County in western Iowa, also tested positive for the virus after traveling to California, state officials said Monday.

Confirmatory testing still is pending with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials have not indicated a timeline on this testing.

In response to these new cases, Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency Monday evening, activating the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s Iowa Emergency Response Plan.

“The proclamation authorizes state agencies to use resources including personnel, equipment and facilities to perform activities necessary to prevent, contain and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus,” according to a news release.

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COVID-19, which first was linked to an outbreak in China, since has been identified in several countries, including the United States. The United States has reported more than 900 cases that are associated with 28 deaths as of Tuesday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In a Tuesday news conference, Reynolds said the state’s response is moving from “prevention to mitigation.”

All 21 Iowans were on the Egyptian cruise have been contacted by the state public health department, Reynolds said.

State officials previously said three infected Johnson County residents had traveled from Feb. 17 to March 2 and returned to the state on March 3. Test results of these three Iowans on the Egyptian cruise were announced Sunday.

According to Johnson County Public Health officials — who held a news conference just two hours before the state announced the five additional cases — the risk to the general public in the county is “extremely low.”

Dave Koch, county public health director, said the infected individuals did not have symptoms when they interacted with the public, meaning the likelihood of spreading to others is low.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

According to the CDC, the virus spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets land on surfaces, which other people touch and then get on their mouths or eyes with their fingers.

“I want to assure the public that although they were in the community, and continue to be in the community, they’re not symptomatic and therefore they are not risking the general public health,” Koch said during Tuesday’s news conference.

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State and local public health officials continue to emphasize Iowans can stay healthy by following everyday precautions that include washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when feeling ill.

The state also has established a public hotline — available 24 hours a day, seven days a week — for questions about COVID-19. Iowans can reach that hotline by dialing 2-1-1.

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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