Iowa City senior living facility nears coronavirus outbreak threshold

Bickford Senior Living in Iowa City is reporting two confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its residents, leading to enhance
Bickford Senior Living in Iowa City is reporting two confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its residents, leading to enhanced protocols at the facility. (Google Street View image)

IOWA CITY — A senior living facility in Iowa City has confirmed two of its residents have COVID-19, adding to the growing list of long-term care facilities with the coronavirus and nearing the qualification threshhold for a conoravirus outbreak.

Bickford Senior Living’s Iowa City branch is reporting two “active” cases of COVID-19, according to its website. It explains an active case is a current resident who has tested positive for the virus.

“This resident may or may not be residing in the branch, based on their need for hospitalization,” according to the Bickford website.

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks — characterized by three or more residents testing positive for the disease — in nursing homes in Linn, Washington and Tama counties. She said 10 percent of the state’s total positive COVID-19 cases are among residents and staff at long-term care facilities.

And 48 percent of Iowa’s deaths have been residents of care facilities, she said.

As of Tuesday, Iowa’s COVID-19 caseload had topped 1,000, and its death tally had reached 26.

Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar Rapids has become the epicenter of a COVID-19 outbreak in Linn County after two staff members tested positive March 24 and four patients tested positive two days later.

Linn County’s cases now number 186 — the most among the state’s 99 counties — and Johnson County’s total is 134, the second highest.


According to guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Environment, long-term care facilities should suspect an outbreak if it has one laboratory-confirmed positive case and other cases of respiratory illness.

If an outbreak is suspected, the department advises staff to begin monitoring other residents and staff for symptoms and report cases to the local health departments.

In light of the COVID cases at Bickford in Iowa City, the care facility has initiated several protocols, including barring visitors, screening all residents, requiring health care professionals and staff to wear masks while caring for residents, and enhancing disinfection.

The facility also has stopped communal dining — among the measures many other facilities have taken.

In addition to Iowa City, Bickford has facilities in a number of Iowa cities, including Marion, according to its website.

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