A sixth Hardin County resident has tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health announced the diagnosis at around 1:30 p.m. Friday.
This sixth patient is identified as middle-aged adult, between the ages or 41 and 60. They are reportedly self-isolating at home.
The first confirmed Hardin County case was announced on March 26. It was 60-year-old Justin Weber, of Eldora, who remains hospitalized as of Friday. Of the six local cases, one is a person age 18 to 41; four are age 41 to 60; and one age 61 to 80.
As with the previous five cases, the identity of the person and their town of residence are not being released. (Justin Weber's identity if known because his family spoke with the Times Citizen.) Local public health officials have interviewed the latest patient and will contact anyone they may have had contact with in the last two weeks. Those people will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks.
Iowa public health officials do not release the town of residence of any person who tests positive for COVID-19. Iowa Code Chapter 22 prohibits the release of information that could identify an individual. Some states have different confidentiality laws, but Iowa officials have said information related to where an individual lives or has visited "is not essential in protecting the public’s health during the COVID-19 outbreak."
"COVID-19 is circulating widely in the state and in our county," said Greenbelt Home Care Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents. "A resident’s chance of being exposed to the virus is high, regardless of contact with a confirmed case. This is why all residents are advised to stay home as much as possible, and when they must leave for essential errands like groceries or to get medication, they maintain a six-foot distance from other individuals and avoid groups of people. This is because the risk of exposure to the virus is NOT limited to exposure to a known case; you could just as easily be exposed to an undiagnosed individual who is at the grocery store."
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced 521 new COVID-19 cases on Friday morning, bringing the state total to 4,445. There have been 107 coronavirus-related deaths in the state. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, as of Thursday morning, 137 Hardin County residents - about 0.8 percent of the county's 16,868 residents - had been tested for the disease.
The state's website is currently showing that three Hardin County residents have recovered from COVID-19. Reents said local officials questioned the Iowa Department of Public Health about that number because local public health officials are still monitoring the health of all six residents who've tested positive for the disease. Reents said they were told that the number may be the result of the number of days that have passed since the patients' positive tests, not their current health status.
This week the state announced the rollout of a new website - TestIowa.com - that is gathering information from Iowans about their health, occupation and underlying medical conditions. Information gathered through those assessments will be used to identify possible "hot spots" of COVID-19, and that will determine places where drive-through testing will be set up.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever (100.4 or greater) and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you're instructed to call your health care provider before going into the office. They will walk you through a series of questions and may ask you to report to a testing site. Hansen Family Hospital in Iowa Falls is able to test for COVID-19, but patients should not show up at the hospital. Call the HFH COVID-19 phone number at 641-648-7113 first. Hansen Family Hospital is not a TestIowa site. The public should not show up at the site and expect to be tested for COVID-19.
Find more information about COVID-19 in Iowa on the state's coronavirus website, or on the Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health Facebook page.