CORONAVIRUS

Patrons of Cedar Rapids restaurant asked to self isolate after DJ diagnosed with COVID-19

The Longbranch Restaurant and Event Center is seen Tuesday in northeast Cedar Rapids. An entertainer who over the weeken
The Longbranch Restaurant and Event Center is seen Tuesday in northeast Cedar Rapids. An entertainer who over the weekend tested positive for COVID-19 recently performed there. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story listed the incorrect dates the DJ company appeared at North Dodge Hy-Vee Market Grille in Iowa City. The company was there March 5 and 12. The Gazette regrets the error.

By Alison Gowans, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Public Health announced Tuesday that anyone who on March 6 or March 13 was at the Longbranch Restaurant and Bar, which is inside the Best Western hotel at 90 Twixt Town Road NE in Cedar Rapids, should self-isolate for 14 days from that date.

A statement from the health agency said it received notification a disc jockey who performed at the restaurant on those dates has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Self-isolating “is being strongly encouraged out of an abundance of caution for your health and the health of our community,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the Longbranch has thoroughly disinfected the business.

Almost a full day — 19 hours — before that first public advisory was issued, an Iowa City disc jockey company posted online that the business co-owner had tested positive for coronavirus.

The business said that on its own it had “reached out to all businesses that we have served over the past two weeks to inform them of this unfortunate circumstance. We are unable to personally contact all individuals that may have attended our events over the past two weeks, which is why we are putting out this public announcement.”

According to a calendar on the business’s website, in addition to the Longbranch appearances, the business had appearances March 2 and 9 at Herb N’ Lou’s in West Branch; March 3 and 10 at Blackstone in Iowa City; March 4 and 11 at Shakespeare’s Pub & Grill in Iowa City; March 5 and 12 at the North Dodge Hy-Vee Market Grille in Iowa City; March 6 at a Moose convention in Cedar Rapids; March 7 at a private wedding in Iowa City; and March 13 at Gene’s, which is inside the Graduate Hotel in Iowa City.

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Though the business had far more gigs in Johnson County than Linn County during the period, the responses of public health officials in the two counties were in stark contrast. While officials in Linn took almost a full day since the online post to notify the public, Johnson officials decided to not notify the public at all.

Johnson County Public Health Director Dave Koch said at a news conference Tuesday that the department didn’t feel an advisory was warranted.

“The risk to the individuals in those establishments is no greater than the risk to the rest of the community,” he said. “Remember the mode of transmission. The mode of transmission is droplets. You have to be within 6 feet.”

He said historically, Johnson County Public Health hasn’t released business names when they are associated with illness outbreaks like food-borne sicknesses.

The DJ business post said that on Friday, just before midnight, the man began having a severe headache and mild cough. By Saturday, he had a severe headache, was unable to get out of bed without feeling overly weak and fatigued, was unable to speak full sentences without having to struggle for breath and in general was not very responsive.

The co-owners consulted a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics nurse on the phone and had a video conference with a physician before going to the emergency room at UIHC, where he was tested for flu, other respiratory illnesses and coronavirus.

He was admitted into isolation at the hospital, according to the post.

About 5 p.m. Sunday, the coronavirus test came back positive.

Later that night, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported a case of community spread coronavirus in Johnson County from an adult between 41 and 60.

“He does not know of anyone that he has been in contact with that was ill or showing symptoms,” the post said.

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He and his wife returned home Monday afternoon and remain at home in isolation. He “is doing better than he was on Saturday, but he still is very ill,” the post reads. It said his wife has not been tested.

The man did not return messages Tuesday from The Gazette seeking comment.

The Linn County Public Health statement includes a reminder that all individuals should wash their hands often with soap and water, cover coughs and sneezes and remain at home when ill. Anyone who has met the following conditions should self-isolate for 14 days:

Anyone who has been on a cruise and anyone who has traveled to a country with a level 3 travel advisory and anyone who has contact with a known or suspected case of COVID-19.

Anyone who develops fever, cough or shortness of breath during self-isolation should call a health care provider before going to see him or her.

Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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