CORONAVIRUS

Seven Iowans test negative for novel coronavirus; one test still pending

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Corona
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP)
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The results of seven individuals being tested for the novel coronavirus have come back negative, state public health officials confirmed Wednesday.

However, one Iowan still is waiting for test results for COVID-19, the respiratory virus spreading rapidly across the globe, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. With this announcement, this brings the total number of individuals tested in Iowa to 8.

The department has declined to release identifying information on these individuals, citing patient privacy concerns.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati, state epidemiologist and medical director for IDPH, told reporters during a conference call Tuesday that the number of people being tested isn’t necessarily something to worry about.

“I think it’s a reflection that we have this capability and that laboratory, public health, clinical personal and a variety of our partners throughout the state are doing exactly what we would want in a situation like this,” Pedati said.

Officials have previously stated there is a 24-hour turnaround time on these tests, which is being conducted by the State Hygienic Lab.

The Coralville-based state public health laboratory was authorized to perform COVID-19 tests as of last week. In a news conference Wednesday, officials with the lab told reporters they have about 250 test kits for the virus, and are expecting another shipment yet on Wednesday.

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Earlier this week, state public health officials asked any Iowans to voluntarily isolate themselves for 14 days if they have recently returned from China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

Individuals who self-quarantine are asked to stay in their homes. They should not go to school or work and avoid large public gathering spaces where the virus could spread to others.

Pedati encouraged employers to consider flexible leave policies and tele-working options.

“We recognize staying at home for 14 days is an inconvenience, but it is an important way to limit the spread of a variety of illnesses, including COVID-19,” Pedati said in a news release Tuesday.

Self-isolating individuals should also monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, which can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms have been known to appear in as few as two days or as many as two weeks after exposure, public health experts say.

Officials said these new measures is a proactive measure in an effort to delay or control a potential spread of the respiratory virus in Iowa.

Nearly 91,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 70 countries, including the United States, according to the World Health Organization. More than 3,000 deaths have been associated with the virus.

Eleven deaths have occurred in the United States, including the first death in California on Wednesday, according to news reports.

Iowa’s public health officials are encouraging individuals to take public health precautions at this time, which include covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often and staying home when sick.

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They are also encouraging Iowans to prepare for any potential disruptions in the same way they would plan for severe weather — by discussing it with family and making a plan.

Gazette reporter Vanessa Miller contributed to this report.

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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