DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) said that for now they are not recommending the suspension of mass gatherings due to COVID-19 since there is no evidence of “community spread” in Iowa.

“Iowa has not identified community spread of COVID-19 at this time, and absent community spread or additional guidance from our federal partners, we aren’t making any recommendations to cancel events,” said Dr. Caitlin Pedati, IDPH medical director and state epidemiologist. “This is, however, a very fluid situation and we urge the public to closely monitor messaging from the Iowa Department of Public Health for updated guidance.”

They note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made recommendations for high-risk groups. Older adults and those with chronic health conditions should stay away from others who are sick, limit close contact with others in general, avoid crowds, and wash hands often.

The CDC recommends that event organizers prepare for the possibility of outbreaks and ensure they have contingency plans in place should the need arise. 

IDPH announced this week eight new positive cases of COVID-19, all of whom are older adults (61 to 80 years) from Johnson County and were on the same Egyptian cruise as seven other presumptive positive cases. All are in self isolation and recovering at home.  This brings the number to 16 positive cases in the state of Iowa, of those cases 14 are in Johnson County and Carroll and Pottawattamie counties have one case each.

There have been 83 tests given in the state that were negative, and 29 tests that are pending. IDPH reports there are 128 people currently under public health monitoring and 46 Iowans who have completed monitoring.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those most at risk of the virus are older adults, and individuals with underlying health conditions.  

Iowans can help prevent the spread of illness by following simple daily precautions including washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill. It is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and IDPH recommends getting the flu vaccine. Influenza activity is widespread  in Iowa and as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to receive the vaccine.

COVID-19 was first linked to an outbreak in Wuhan, China, but cases have subsequently been identified in several countries, including the U.S. These are the first cases identified in Iowa.

Listen to a media call with Dr. Pedati on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

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