By KCRG News Staff |
Posted: Mon 9:41 PM, Apr 27, 2020
Updated: Mon 11:16 PM, Apr 27, 2020
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – While not on the list of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ 77 counties who will ease some restrictions on May 1, officials in Linn County spent much of Monday’s coronavirus briefing emphasizing that when they are loosened that people will still need to take measures to limit transmission of the virus.
Dr. Tony Myers, vice president of medical affairs at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, speaks at a press conference about the novel coronavirus in Linn County on Monday, April 27, 2020. (Courtesy: Linn County Public Health)
As of Monday evening, Linn County had 629 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to Linn County Public Health. 37 people have been killed by the disease, while 348 are considered recovered.
Stacey Walker, a member of the Linn County Board of Supervisors, said that people, whether in a county that has some businesses reopened or not, should assume that others could be carrying COVID-19, and to act appropriately.
“The desire for a full return to normal is palpable,” Walker said. “The chorus of voices of some public officials urging a full return seems to grow stronger every day. I get it. But, if we are not careful in how we do this, we could easily end up to back to where we are now.”
Walker acknowledged that economic and public health needs are currently at odds, saying that it’s up to public officials to weigh the balance of the two.
“It should go without saying, our economy only works when there is a healthy workforce to power it,” Walker said. “We do need to move forward. But, we need to do so intelligently and safely.”
Heather Meador, with Linn County Public Health, echoed Walker’s sentiments about the need to continue social distancing, using cloth face masks, and staying at home when you feel sick. She said this will still apply when Linn County joins other counties in the state with loosened restrictions, which could be as soon as May 16.
“This relaxation of measures is not a call to return to the way things were before COVID-19. We all need to do our part to protect ourselves, our families, and each other,” Meador said. “This marathon continues.”
Care centers continue to be a significant source of concern
Another local care center was identified over the weekend in the Linn County area, according to officials.
UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Living Center West, located at 1050 4th Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids, is the site of a COVID-19 outbreak, according to Meador. She said that 43 residents and staff have tested positive for the illness there. No deaths have been associated with that outbreak.
Meador also provided updated statistics for other facilities that have been previously identified. Heritage Specialty Care, in Cedar Rapids, has 110 total confirmed cases of the illness among staff and residents, 73 of which are considered recovered. 24 of the residents have died.
Linn Manor Care Center, in Marion, the site of another fatal outbreak of COVID-19, has seen 22 confirmed cases of the disease in staff and residents, four of which are recovered. Five residents at Linn Manor have died.
ManorCare Health Services, in Cedar Rapids, 13 residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, with no associated deaths.
Meador said that they are continuing to closely monitor the status of long-term care facilities, and the health department’s staff are coordinating with them to help limit future outbreaks.
Patients with severe illness at a steady rate, Mercy doctor says, but slight uptick in overall admissions seen
The rate of patients at one Cedar Rapids hospital with a more severe set of symptoms from the novel coronavirus has been fairly consistent recently, according to a hospital official.
Dr. Tony Myers, vice president of medical affairs at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, said at the Monday briefing that his facility sees around eight to 14 people in their intensive care units on any given day, with three to six of those on ventilators. He said that this pattern has seen little change over the last two and a half weeks.
However, Myers noted that his facility has seen a slight increase over the last four days in admissions for COVID-19, which he said makes him concerned about the extent to which the public is taking preventative measures.
Myers said that Mercy, UnityPoint-Cedar Rapids, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa, and Linn County Anesthesiologists have not established exactly when they will be resuming elective procedures. He said that the providers, jointly, are working on plans for when those procedures can resume in the local area.
Gov. Reynolds said on Friday that she would allow medical facilities to start performing elective surgeries and procedures on Monday, April 27.