An update from the Iowa Department of Public Health on Monday morning seemed to report a second COVID-19 case in Hardin County. But when local public health officials followed up, it turned out the case was the results of a “mix-up” at the state level. In fact, Hardin County still has just one confirmed case of the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The case reported on Monday should have been assigned to Tama County.
To date, there have been 1,710 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, and 43 people have died of complications caused by the disease.
Rocky Reents, the public health coordinator for Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health, said her department didn’t receive notification of the case that was announced Monday. Instead, she noticed that this morning’s updated map of cases from the Iowa Department of Public Health showed a second case in Hardin County.
“Typically IDPH is supposed to send us an email when we get a new case, but they didn’t,” she said. “We got on Facebook for the press release and map and that’s how we saw it.”
Reents followed up with a phone call to IDPH and learned of the mix-up.
The first local confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced on March 26. The patient is Justin Weber, of Eldora, a small business owner and pastor at Honey Creek New Providence Friends Church. His wife spoke with the Times Citizen earlier this month, when Weber was sedated and on a ventilator. According to Krista Weber’s posts on social media, Justin’s condition has improved and he was removed from the ventilator on Sunday and has had his first negative results from a COVID-19 test.
In the 18 days since the first Hardin County COVID-19 case was announced, cases of the disease in Iowa have increased by more than 1,500, from 179 to 1,710. Meanwhile, though, Hardin County has remained at just one. Reents said that doesn’t mean there aren’t other local cases of the disease - it’s just that none others have been confirmed.
“I definitely think we should be walking around - or not walking around - as if everybody here has this,” Reents said Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials have warned that some people may have the disease for two days before they show any symptoms. Others may have the disease and never have any of the symptoms. Even asymptomatic carriers could transmit the disease to others.
“I think we should definitely be more concerned about that,” Reents said.
Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health report daily on the number of tests that have been administered, and the number of negative results. So far that information has not been split out at the county level. Reents said the state has said it will start making that information available.
“We did reach out to them to ask,” she said. “Hopefully tomorrow.”
In the meantime, the same guidelines still stand: if you’re ill stay home; if you’re not ill, stay home whenever possible; if you must go to the store do it alone and do it quickly; keep six feet of distance between yourself and others; and wash your hands frequently.
Find more information about COVID-19 in Iowa on the state’s coronavirus website.