Allamakee County now reported as having six confirmed COVID-19 cases

Local health officials advising individuals to follow prevention guidelines and to stay at home unless absolutely necessary

by Lissa Blake

Those who don’t want to be the next person diagnosed with the coronavirus should stay home, self-isolate and wash their hands.

That was the message from Veterans Memorial Hospital Administrator Mike Myers Friday afternoon, March 20 following the diagnosis of the third person testing positive for COVID-19 in Allamakee County. Since then, however, three more county residents have been reported as testing positive, bringing the county’s total to six as of Monday, March 22, adding to the current (Monday) total of 105 positive cases in Iowa affecting more than two dozen counties.

CASES IN ALLAMAKEE COUNTY
The first positive COVID-19 cases in Allamakee County were reported March 15 and included a middle-aged adult between 41-60 years of age and a youth 18 years of age or younger. A third positive case, another middle-aged adult between the ages of 41-60, was reported Friday, March 20 before two more cases testing positive were reported Saturday, March 21, including two more adults, one 41-60 years of age and the other 61-80 years of age. The sixth and most recent case was reported Monday, March 23 as being between the ages of 18 and 40. Additional specific information regarding the individuals testing positive is not released by health officials to the public due to privacy considerations, according to public health policy.

Following the initial reporting of Allamakee County’s first cases just over a week ago, a news report issued by www.theyeshivaworld.com, an Orthodox Jewish online news publication that is part of Yeshiva World News LLC, stated that three positive cases were reported in Postville and linked with travel. The publication later released a statement received from the AgriStar meat processing plant in Postville that confirmed the positive cases. That statement further said “all three cases were in the same family” and included “two parents and an older son”, and went on to further state that all three were “immediately quarantined” when they began to exhibit symptoms upon their return to Postville, with others who had also been in direct contact with those family members also imposing self-quarantine, “although no one else has been reported as showing any symptoms of the virus,” the statement reads.

The statement released by AgriStar further explains that the company has “implemented additional sanitizing and handwashing procedures above and beyond what was already in place”. The company also states that there is “currently no disruption in our production and no compromise on the safety and quality of our products”.

Another of those additional reported Allamakee County cases has been further confirmed by social media posts this past weekend by the patient’s daughter who works in the medical field. That individual would be the one initial Allamakee County case at this point between the ages of 61-80, and that individual was initially treated locally in the middle of last week but has since been transferred to a hospital in La Crosse, WI. The family’s social media posts indicate that the source of the patient’s coronavirus infection is unknown and that the individual’s spouse has been self-quarantining at their rural Allamakee County home since the patient was admitted into the hospital the middle of last week, but has as of yet shown no symptoms.

DON’T PANIC
Myers said the most vulnerable segment of the population right now is people over the age of 60 with pre-existing conditions.

“I know there is a lot of panic. People need to let the facts and not emotion guide them,” said Myers. “Although the coronavirus is getting all of the attention, the regular flu has been far more fatal, year-to-date.”

The number of cases of the coronavirus in the United States has exceeded 45,000 as of Monday, March 22, with more than 550 deaths, although both numbers obviously change frequently. Myers said the flu has seen more than 38 million cases with more than 23,000 deaths at this point.

STOP THE SPREAD
Myers added many people have likely already been in contact with someone who is carrying the virus.

“People need to get in the habit of phoning first. They need to limit contact with others. And get ready - cases are likely to increase exponentially over the next few weeks,” he said.

Myers said good hand washing and social distancing will do a lot toward containing the spread of the virus.

“People need to quit going out… I know the down side of that is that it does hurt the restaurants and other places of business… hospitals also are experiencing a loss of revenue, and hospitals and doctors offices are only seeing emergent patients,” he said.

BEING PREPARED
Myers said VMH has spent the last week putting protocols in place to protect people who have to be seen.

“We have certain entry points for patients. We don’t let deliveries in past a certain point. Staff and visitors are checked for fever… And as we get into it, more and more people are going to be hospitalized - those older residents with pre-existing conditions such as a bad heart, bad lungs or diabetes,” he said.

Myers said anyone who comes into contact with anyone with a known case of any kind of virus should self-isolate. “Try to stop the spread,” he said.

Additional information about local protocols and where to turn to have questions answered can be found in other articles on this same page and other pages in this week’s edition.
 

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