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County confirms first positive COVID-19 case

Older adult, aged 61 to 80, tested positive for the virus; household practicing self-isolation

The Hamilton County Public Health Department reported the first positive case of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Hamilton County on Sunday morning.

“Van Diest Medical Center and Hamilton County Public Health have been working together for weeks, cooperatively, to prepare for our first positive test,” said Shelby Kroona, Hamilton County Public Health director and public information officer.

The county health department and Van Diest Medical Center’s message to the public doesn’t change based on the number of positive cases in the county, Kroona said. Everyone should assume COVID-19 is circulating and understand that they could come into contact with an undiagnosed case at the grocery store, pharmacy or on the sidewalk.

“This is why it’s important to only leave home for important errands, and when you do, remember to practice social distancing — stay six feet away from other individuals and do not gather in groups of more than 10 people,” she said. “We hope everyone in the county is practicing these measures regardless of having one or 100 positive cases in our county.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health identified the individual that tested positive as an older adult, aged 61 to 80. The department does not release the city or town an individual resides in.

“The individual and their household were given instructions on self-isolating and following good preventative measures,” Kroona said. “So they’ve been fully educated on what they need to do to prevent the spread.”

On Saturday afternoon, a rumor went around on social media that there was a positive case of the virus in Hamilton County. However, Hamilton County Public Health did not receive confirmation of a positive test until Sunday morning.

“The health department can only speak once we’ve had a confirmation and we try not to propagate rumors,” Kroona said. “People should be very mindful of what they’re reading and where they’re getting their information.”

Kroona said she did not have a total for the number of negative tests conducted in the county, but noted that other individuals have been tested and currently the county is awaiting the results of two more tests.

While this is Hamilton County’s first case, it most likely will not be the last. “We continue to urge all residents to make prevention a priority by following these measures.” Kroona said.

• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for a least 20 seconds each time.

• Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow/upper arm.

• Staying home when ill.

• Limit contact with other individuals.

• Approximately 80% of Iowans infected with COVID-19 will experience only a mild to moderate illness. Most mildly ill Iowans do not need to go to their healthcare provider or be tested to confirm they have COVID-19. Sick Iowans must stay home and isolate themselves from others in their house. You should continue to isolate yourself until all of the following are met:

• You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers).

• Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath has improved).

• At least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

If you think you may need healthcare, call first. Your provider can assess whether you need to be seen in the office or if you can recover at home. There may also be options for you to talk to a medical provider from home using technology.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health’s webpage at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus and follow the department on Facebook at @IowaDepartmentOfPublicHealth.

“The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, Hamilton County Board of Public Health, Emergency Management, Sheriff and Van Diest Medical Center will continue to hold conference calls to update all parties of current developments and needs,” Kroona said.

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