CORONAVIRUS

Linn County confirms first three coronavirus cases

Statewide total reaches 68 confirmed cases

Third Avenue SE in downtown Cedar Rapids is empty on St. Patrick's Day morning, March 17, 2020. The annual SaPaDaPaSo pa
Third Avenue SE in downtown Cedar Rapids is empty on St. Patrick’s Day morning, March 17, 2020. The annual SaPaDaPaSo parade was canceled this year due to concerns over the coronavirus. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Linn County confirmed its first three COVID-19, or coronavirus, cases Saturday. That brings the statewide total of positive-confirmed cases to 68, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Two Linn County adults in the 18-to-40 age group, as well as a woman, age 41 to 60, have tested positive. The middle-age woman is recovering at home, county public health officials announced during a news conference Saturday morning.

“This case was aware that she had potential exposure to COVID-19 and prior to any symptoms beginning, had already put into practice precautions to prevent the spread to other individuals,” said Heather Meador, clinical services branch supervisor with the Linn County Public Health. “That’s exactly what we want people to do.”

The woman was tested outside Linn County, but because of patient privacy laws, public health officials could not say where she was tested.

After that news conference, the state public health department announced the two additional Linn County cases. There also are three more confirmed COVID-19 cases in Johnson County — a person between the ages of 18 and 40, another between 41 and 60, and a third between 61 and 80 years old — bringing the county total to 25.

Meador said the Linn County Public Health will be informed of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 and will start a disease investigation that will include tracing who may have been in contact with the infected person. This happened with the first Linn County case and all “contacts have been identified and are aware already of their potential exposure,” she said.

The state public health department on Saturday reported there have been 1,049 negative cases conducted at the State Hygienic Lab in Coralville.

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Meador said up to 80 percent of Iowans infected with COVID-19 will experience only mild to moderate symptoms. She said all Linn County residents who live with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 — whether that person has been tested or not — should self-isolate for 14 days.

Self isolation means staying at home, taking your temperature twice a day and monitoring yourself for cough or difficulty breathing, Meador said.

“Don’t use buses, taxis or ride-shares. Wash your hands often. Postpone all non-essential medical appointments,” she said. “If you have an essential medical appointment, we want you to call that provider and work with the health department so you can be seen appropriately.”

Those who do start to experience symptoms of COVID-19 should call their health care provider to determine whether they should be tested.

Iowans with questions about COVID-19 can call the state’s public hotline at 2-1-1 or (800) 244-7431.

The state also said it will begin to share results of tests being conducted by outside laboratories.

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.