Caitlin Pedati, state medical director and epidemiologist at the IDPH | Facebook
COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, is spreading across the United States, but as of March 6 there were no confirmed cases in Iowa, according to a report in the Ames Tribune.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported that public health monitoring has been completed on 40 people, and 11 others who aren’t showing symptoms are currently being monitored.
Leanne Hillier, infection control coordinator for Mary Greeley Medical Center (MGMC), told the Tribune the center started screening and meeting regularly about the virus in mid-January.
MGMC provides healthcare to residents in Story and 12 other counties in central Iowa.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. is “inevitable.”
Symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to pneumonia and can include a fever, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus.
Hillier said a person who may be carrying COVID-19 who comes into the MGMC emergency room would immediately be taken to a negative-airflow room to be tested. The room isolates the patient and also stops airborne contagious diseases from traveling to other rooms. The CDC would walk medical staff wearing protective gear through the testing process.
Caitlin Pedati, state medical director and epidemiologist at the IDPH, said the department is always working with local, state and federal partners to prepare for a public health emergency. These efforts go back decades, she said. There are drills and exercises that are practiced so staff can be ready if and when the need arises. Generally, the drills are specific to influenza since it happens every year, Pedati said.
McFarland Clinic and Story County Medical Center also heeded the recommendation by the CDC and IDPH and started taking extra measures approximately the same time as MGMC.
Iowa State University is taking measures, too. The university is closely monitoring information from public health and security organizations to determine if study abroad programs should be suspended. The university has followed CDC direction and restricted travel to South Korea.