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Hamilton County cases holding at 11

Hamilton County’s positive COVID-19 cases remained at 11 on Tuesday when the weekly briefing on the coronavirus was presented by local health department officials. Shelby Kroona, Hamilton County Public Health administrator, told the Board of Supervisors in the Tuesday update that there had been some confusion on the state map which tracks cases throughout Iowa.

Kroona said that the interactive map on the website coronavirus.iowa.gov showed 13 cases in the county. She said she learned that the two additional cases were initially assigned to the Hamilton County due to the fact old addresses were used. The two cases did not currently live in Hamilton County, so the interactive map was corrected to reflect the 11 confirmed positive cases.

“The map is good, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story,” she said.

Kroona said the map also shows that more than 4,000 Hamilton County people had taken the TestIowa survey.

“That’s really, really good for us,” she said. “That could help bring a testing site closer to Hamilton County. Of course, people would have to qualify for testing.”

She said that as the calendar gets closer to June 1, Gov. Kim Reynolds has had some changes for health departments. Isolation routines were changed last week from 14 days to 10 days.

“If you are asymptomatic, you should self-isolate for 10 days. You should be able to return to work after that,” she said.

Those who have symptoms must be fever-free for three full days and it has to be at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms before returning to work.

Kroona said some businesses and organizations are requiring a negative test result before allowing an employee to return to work.

“There’s controversy around that. We’ve been told that the 10 days isolation is enough and we’ve also been told that people sometimes can shed the virus for longer than 10 days,” she said. “So if we test them at day 10, they could still be considered positive. But the CDC doesn’t recommend another round of isolation after the 10 days.”

She said she has also received questions form area residents about what constitutes exposure to the virus.

“People need to remember that to be considered exposed to the virus – it’s 30 minutes of face-to-face time with no barriers,” she said. People can’t be tested right after exposure, there needs to be five to 10 days before testing is done.

“This is to make sure we get a true picture and not a false negative,” she said.

Kroona said she had also been working with Wright County where there have been a lot of tests given to those working on the chicken farms.

“Their numbers are significantly increasing and they are now testing all day almost everyday at many of the agricultural businesses,” she said.

She encouraged Hamilton County residents to assess their own personal risks as more businesses and activities reopen.

“Remember to stay socially distance, wash hands frequently, and cover coughs and sneezes. And of course, stay home from work if you have symptoms,” Kroona advised.

Amy McDonough, chief nursing officer at Van Diest Medical Center, also gave an update Tuesday.

“We’re working to bring back our surgical and procedure patients in a safe manner. So, we are screening them before they come into the facility,” she said.

Carla Johnson, infection prevention nurse at VDMC, said the hospital is closely monitoring personal protective equipment to be sure the staff has the proper tools to keep themselves protected.

“We continue to screen all of our employees and patients. Employees continue to wear masks. Those who are in offices and those on the floor who don’t have exposure to respiratory patients wear the cloth masks,” Johnson said. “The staff in the emergency department are wearing the manufactured masks with the face shields.”

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