Page County's second COVID-19 case was confirmed at about 9 a.m. Friday, March 27, according to county health officials. The person is 61-80 years old and recently returned from an out-of-state trip. No other information was released.
“We continue to remind residents to take preventive measures to slow the spread of this virus,” said Page County Public Health Director Jessica Erdman. “It’s important for everyone to stay home as much as possible and to practice social distancing – this simply means to stay away from groups of people, and to keep a 6-foot distance from other individuals.”
Page County Public Health announced Wednesday, March 25, the first confirmed case in the County. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the individual is self-isolating at home.
On Thursday, March 26, health officials said the first-case individual is a middle-aged adult (41 – 60 years), who is recovering at home in isolation. The individual recently returned home from a cruise. An investigation by Page County Public Health was completed on March 25. Any individuals who have come into close contact with the individual have been advised to go into self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor their symptoms.
“We continue to remind residents to take preventive measures to slow the spread of this virus,” Page County Public Health Director Jessica Erdman said in a release. “It’s important for everyone to stay home as much as possible and to practice social distancing – this simply means to stay away from groups of people, and to keep a 6-foot distance from other individuals.”
Officials discussed the importance of privacy while informing the public on positive cases.
“As we see positive cases turn up, Page County Public Health will continue to follow Iowa privacy laws while being as transparent as possible to the public. But because there is community spread of COVID-19, detailed tracing is no longer necessary, as we know the virus is circulating in the community and the risk of virus spread is the same for all community members, not just those in close contact with the person who tested positive,” Erdman said.
Iowa Code section 139A.3(2)(b) provides that information regarding disease investigations “provided to or maintained by the department, a local board, or a local department, which identifies a person infected with or exposed to a reportable or other disease or health condition, is confidential and shall not be accessible to the public.”
“Page County Public Health’s general practice will be to not disclose specific towns or cities of where residents with confirmed positive tests reside,” Erdman said. "However, we will share as much information as we are legally able to."
On the day when state of Iowa officials announced its first COVID-19 related death, Clarinda Regional Health Center board reviewed some statistics on how the global pandemic has impacted its operations.
During the board’s meeting Tuesday, March 24, Chief Executive Officer Chuck Nordyke said the center had tested 52 people for COVID-19 since March 16. There were no positive results. Of the 52, 34 were female and 18 were male. The average age was 47 years old. The test result took an average of three days to finalize.
Nordyke said he and medical staff had considered a drive-through test, which other locations across the country have done, but were concerned about using all test and related medical supplies. He said if a positive case in Page County was confirmed after a designated drive-through test day with many people, the drive through would have been pointless.
“Is it really worth it,” he said. “I know there are concerns with supplies. We can get supplies. We don’t have a huge surplus though.”
Nordyke said the hospital had ordered hundreds of facemasks, commonly used when treating potential COVID-19 patients, but they had been stolen before they even reached Clarinda, according to their supplier.
“We are making sure our nurses and medical staff are safe,” he said.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said the death was an older adult, 61-80 years of age, and a resident of Dubuque County.
"Our hearts are heavy with the first loss of an Iowan to COVID-19. The thoughts and prayers of our state are with the family during this difficult time," said Reynolds. "I continue to urge all Iowans to protect their health and the health of others, especially older individuals and those with chronic health conditions who are most at risk. We all have a role to play in limiting the spread of this virus."
A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID-19 in Iowa is provided by IDPH, updated each morning. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431. The state of Iowa has started sharing the number of negative tests conducted at outside labs, and is providing additional information on the conditions of those infected with COVID-19.
Iowa Department of Public Health and Council Bluffs Nonpareil contributed to this story.