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Iowa reports new coronavirus case, confirms community spread in state

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(MGN Image)(KWQC)
Published: Mar. 15, 2020 at 2:05 AM CDT
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Iowa officials identified an additional positive case of coronavirus on Saturday and reported community spread in the state, according to a release from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

"IDPH has determined, based on the new COVID-19 case and the announcement this evening of

, there is now community spread in our state," the release states.

There are now 18 positive cases in Iowa, the release states. The newest case is an Iowan age 61-80, and a resident of Dallas County.

The IDPH release said the state now has new recommendations for Iowans with underlying conditions, and advised the public to be prepared for cancellations and other disruptions.

"Community spread occurs when individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected," the release states.

To combat spreading COVID-19, the state is recommending leaders of organizations and institutions form contingencies for any planned gatherings, such as church services; and advised groups be limited to less than 250 people. High-risk groups were urged to consider smaller gatherings.

School closures & daycare

The state is not recommending school closures at this time, according to the release, but health-care organizations were urged to "review their contingency plans and consider how telehealth can support the needs of Iowans."

Meanwhile, Iowa's Department of Human Services is working to ensure access to childcare, and the state is exploring financial and operational assistance in order to do so. Options being explored include:

  • Paying child care providers based on enrollment rather than attendance
  • Expediting licensing to enable increased capacity
  • Shifting childcare inspection and regulatory functions to provide technical assistance focused on hygiene and sanitation

"DHS also recognizes the stress that emergency events cause children and families and are developing strategies to identify and address their needs," the release states.

State & long-term care facilities

Visitation at the six state-run facilities has been suspended to mitigate risk at those sites and limit opportunities for community spread, the release states. But DHS is offering virtual option to allow for continued communication and is willing to consider certain exceptions, according to the release.

IDPH is encouraging long-term facilities to limit visitors, and report if more than two staff or residents develop respiratory symptoms that are not attributed to any other diagnosis.

Precautions recommended

Iowans should do their part to protect their health and the health of others:

  • Individuals 60 years of age and older with underlying conditions should stay at home and avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel to affected areas.
  • Consider personal social distancing measures: avoid large gatherings, limit the number of attendees per gathering.
  • Consider working remotely or online learning when possible.
  • Encourage staff to telework (when feasible), particularly individuals at increased risk of severe illness. Limit non-essential work travel and gatherings.
  • Follow CDC guidance regarding school closures if a school-based case is identified, implement short term suspension for school cleaning and contact tracing, and alter schedules to reduce student mixing. Cancel extracurricular activities as needed.