For additional Gazette coverage on novel coronavirus COVID-19, visit https://www.thegazette.com/section/storyline?theme=CORONAVIRUS
6:02 p.m. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signs disaster proclamation related to coronavirus
From a release from the governor’s office:
Gov. Reynolds today signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, activating the disaster response and recovery aspects of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s Iowa Emergency Response Plan. The proclamation authorizes state agencies to utilize resources including personnel, equipment and facilities to perform activities necessary to prevent, contain and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus.
Reynolds will hold a press conference to provide an update on the disease response on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. It will be livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/IAGovernor/
5:03 p.m. Eight cases have now been confirmed in Iowa
Officials have confirmed eight positive cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Iowa on Monday evening.
Five more Iowans have tested positive for the respiratory virus that has infected thousands across the country in addition to the three Johnson County residents that were confirmed by state officials on Sunday evening.
4:38 p.m. Eastern Iowa Airport says they do cannot confirm details about coronavirus
In a media release Monday, the Eastern Iowa Airport said they are unable to verify if the three individuals who returned from an Egypt cruise and tested positive for the coronavirus traveled through their airport or had contact with other passengers.
From the release:
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) cannot confirm if the passengers traveled through the Eastern Iowa Airport (CID).
CID can confirm that, to date, no local airline staff have been notified by any public health agency regarding additional follow-up related to the three individuals.
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CID has consulted with the Iowa Department of Public Health as to recommended actions resulting from the three presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in Johnson County. IDPH has advised CID that no additional precautions are necessary because of the cases.
1:34 p.m. — Mercy Iowa City limits patient visitors, joining other local hospitals
On Sunday, Mercy Iowa City announced it was limiting patient visitors to help prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses, effective immediately.
The hospital joined the Cedar Rapids-based Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital, which also issued patient visitor limits in light of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Visitors at Mercy Iowa City are now limited to two health adults aged 18 or older per patient at any one time.
Both Cedar Rapids hospitals announced their new policies on Friday, which include:
• Visitors are limited to two adults per patient room at any time. Adults, or those aged 18 or older, must be in good health. Children are not allowed to visit at this time.
• However, both hospitals will waive this limit under special circumstances, which apply to end-of-life or critically ill patients. Under these circumstances, children may be permitted, but visitors must work with the hospitals in these cases.
• Visitors to the labor-and-delivery and pediatrics floors are limited to parents and two adults in good health. Healthy siblings under 18 years of age are allowed.
• Visitors to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, are limited to parents and two adults in good health. Children are not allowed to visit at this time.
Local hospitals are encouraging anyone with flu-like symptoms to call ahead to the hospital, urgent care or their physician’s office to inform them of their symptoms and any recent travel history before seeking medical care.
12:57 p.m. — University of Iowa operations ‘not immediately’ impacted by local COVID-19 cases
IOWA CITY — Shortly after Gov. Kim Reynolds on Sunday revealed Iowa’s first three presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 — all in Johnson County — the Iowa City-based University of Iowa communicated to its campus that those cases “do not immediately impact” its operations.
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“The University of Iowa is closely monitoring this development and will follow recommendations from (the Iowa Department of Public Health,)” according to a campus message. “The UI will continue to take proactive actions for the health and safety of faculty, staff, students, and visitors and remains fully prepared to diagnose and treat any potential patient who might be infected with COVID-19.”
Iowa State University in Ames on Sunday also alerted its campus but quickly added, “There are no reported cases of COVID-19 on Iowa State’s campus,” and that public health officials aren’t recommending additional special precautions beyond hand-washing and typical good hygiene.
University of Northern Iowa did not provide an update on its COVID-19 website over the weekend, but all three of Iowa’s public universities — with international populations and students studying abroad — have taken measures to curtail potential spread and illness.
They’ve canceled study abroad programming for the spring semester in heavily affected countries — like China, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. Additionally, UNI on Friday announced it’s canceling all summer study abroad programming — in that it doesn’t use outside vendors for its study abroad experiences like Iowa State and UI.
“So we incur great financial risk with our programs,” according to a UNI announcement Friday. “Additionally, students who need these courses to graduate incur academic risk if we cancel these programs at a late date.”
One day earlier, the Board of Regents announced it’s canceling all university-sponsored travel for students, faculty, and staff for the next 30 days — affecting, among others, hundreds about to embark on study abroad experiences over spring break.
In response to the presumptive positive cases on Sunday, the University of Iowa said it will make any decision to change current operations — including student instruction — in conjunction with the state and county health departments, the governor, and the Board of Regents.
The campuses, in their communications, also urged students, faculty, and staff who have traveled to an area with widespread COVID-19 transmission and are experiencing symptoms — mainly fever, cough, and trouble breathing — to contact student health or a local health care provider, including the UI Hospitals and Clinics.
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