CORONAVIRUS

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker urges vigilance as long-term care facilities, group homes report coronavirus cases

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker on Monday said that with some of the counties in Iowa scheduled to #x201c;reopen#x2
Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker on Monday said that with some of the counties in Iowa scheduled to “reopen” this week, “we must still show respect for those individuals who are seriously ill, for those who are working with the seriously ill, and for the families who are impacted and have lost loved ones.” State health officials have confirmed four outbreaks — three or more cases — at four long-term care facilities in the Cedar Rapids metro area. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker is urging residents to remain vigilant against the novel coronavirus on the day Gov. Kim Reynolds announced reopening 77 Iowa counties with some restrictions.

Although Linn County is not one of the counties being reopened by the governor, Walker said it is a “major hub for our region, and hundreds, maybe thousands of residents in surrounding counties likely work and travel here for the essentials.”

“We must still show respect for those individuals who are seriously ill, for those who are working with the seriously ill, and for the families who are impacted and have lost loved ones,” Walker said during a Linn County news briefing Monday.

While some public officials are urging the return to normal, Walker said Iowans must be careful with how that is done or residents could end up back where they are now.

“The needs of our economy are at odds with our public health system,” Walker said. “It should go without saying our economy only works when there is a healthy workforce to power it. We need to move forward, but we need to do so intelligently and safely.”

Dr. Tony Myers with Mercy Medical Center said he is “concerned” about a slight increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19 over the past four days.

The hospital has seen a steady pattern of between eight to 14 people with the virus in intensive-care units each day and three to six people on ventilators for the past two and a half weeks.

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Myers said residents need to continue to wash their hands, wear masks when they are in public, stay home if they are sick and maintain social distancing if possible, so the hospital can continue to treat patients without becoming overwhelmed.

OUTBREAKS

State officials over the weekend confirmed over the weekend that Living Center West at 1050 Fourth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, is the fourth COViD-19 outbreak in Linn County at a long-term care facility. The center is owned by UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital.

As of Monday afternoon, 43 residents and staff there had tested positive, said Heather Meador, clinical services supervisor at Linn County Public Health. No deaths have been reported there, she said during the Monday news briefing,

The other three outbreaks, according to Meador, are at:

• Heritage Specialty Care, 200 Clive Dr. SW in Cedar Rapids, has had 110 staff and residents test positive for COVID-19. Twenty-four residents have died. It is the largest outbreak at a long-term care facility in the state.

• Linn Manor Care Center, at 1140 Elm Dr. in Marion, has reported 22 positive tests among staff and residents and five deaths among residents.

• ManorCare Health Services, at 1940 First Ave. NE in Cedar Rapids, has had 13 residents and staff test positive, with no deaths.

OTHER REPORTS

Meador also confirmed that Four Oaks Family and Children Services, which operates residential group homes and other programs for juveniles, is experiencing cases of COVID-19.

Officials with the family and children services agency confirmed on Friday that an undisclosed number of its staff had tested positive. Public health officials declined to provide more information Monday.

Also, Cottage Grove Place confirmed to The Gazette on Monday that two of its residents and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

However, that does not constitute an outbreak because only two residents tested positive, Executive Director Mark Bailey said. State officials have defined an outbreak as having had three or more positive cases in a facility.

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Cottage Grove Place has implemented daily temperature checks for residents and frequent health checks for staff. Staff members are being restricted to their designated work areas, meaning skilled nursing staff, for example, cannot go into the independent living facilities.

“We are taking very aggressive steps to prevent spread,” Bailey said.

Comments: (319) 368-8664, grace.king@thegazette.com; (319) 368-8536, michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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