As world health and financial systems reel from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Jackson County health officials weighed in.
“It will get here,” said Jean Hayes, chief nursing director at Jackson County Regional Health Center. “It probably is already here, in my opinion.”
Iowa has “community spread,” which means that new cases are appearing without any known connections to the virus or to travel.
Those who think they should be tested for coronavirus should contact their doctor. “The physicians’ offices are quite capable of testing for coronavirus 2019,” Sarah Hobbs of Genesis VNA and Jackson County Public Health told the Jackson County supervisors March 17.
Some Jackson County residents have already been tested for COVID-19, Hobbs said. As of Thursday, no one in Jackson or Clinton counties had tested positive for the virus.
The Iowa Department of Public Health website lists the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Iowa and in which county those people live.
If someone does have COVID-19, the medical provider will report the case, and public health will contact the person. “If you’re Jackson County, you’d be hearing from me,” Hobbs said. “Let’s go over contacts, where you’ve been and what you need to do next.”
Jackson County emergency management coordinator Lyn Medinger said that only about 0.5 percent of COVID-19 cases are fatal among healthy patients. Fatality rates rise to 50 percent among those with immune deficiencies, however.
“Our goal is to protect our vulnerable populations, people with significant chronic medical conditions, because they are the people who are at most risk if they contract the illness,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs and Medinger said that 80 percent to 90 percent of people may have mild to no symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms might present like slight colds.
“That’s why we stress, if you’re even slightly ill, stay home until your symptoms resolve,” Hobbs said.
Medinger reminded residents that public health measures are unlikely to “stop” coronavirus. “We want to slow COVID-19 down so we can have an adequate response,” he said.
Medinger also said that the county is keeping an eye on medical supplies. “Our supplies in the county are getting down so we’re starting to go to the coalition and shuffle things around,” he said.
Hayes said that county emergency management personnel remain in daily contact with the Iowa Department of Public Health on the coronavirus and related issues. “As a whole, we’re as prepared as we can be,” she said.
“Remain calm,” Medinger advised. “We’ll get through it together.”
What to do
Keep washing your hands and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough
Practice social distancing, standing or sitting at least six feet apart
Stay home when you’re sick, even if it’s just little sniffles
People age 60 and older with medical conditions are recommended to stay home
Limit non-essential traveling and gatherings/meetings
Call 911 only if you need emergent care. Be sure to tell officials if you may have COVID-19 or might have been exposed to it
Call your doctor’s office before showing up there