CEDAR RAPIDS — With two deaths reported from the novel coronavirus as of Monday, March 30, 2020, in Linn County, officials are urging residents to stay at home.
Today alone, 88 additional cases were reported in Iowa, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 424 statewide, including 29 new cases in Linn County, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
“We know that these numbers do not represent what is truly happening in the community,” Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker said during a press conference Monday, citing the low number of tests being performed to confirm COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
Walker said he would rather err on the side of “preservation of life” to protect residents, even as he understands the toll that keeping people at home has on the business community.
With a reminder that “sick people can’t work at jobs,” Walker added, “it’s important that we take these drastic steps now, so we don’t protract this crisis that we’re in.”
“We can do our best to revive the economy, but we can’t revive a person once we’ve lost them,” he said. “We need to do everything we can now to keep this from spiraling out of control.”
Walker and health officials noted that in addition to the two deaths within two days in Linn County, several people are in critical condition on ventilators at area hospitals.
Linn County would like to see a “shelter in place” order, he added, but the Iowa governor’s office has sought legal advice regarding if that can be done without a statewide order. Gov. Kim Reynolds has not issued a shelter in place order, even as surrounding states, such as Minnesota and Illinois have.
Health officials reiterated the importance of only making necessary trips to buy food or medicine, washing hands frequently and social distancing.
Of the 71 total cases in Linn County, 21 have been tied to a long-term care center that Linn Public Health is not identifying, but previously Heritage Specialty Care reported it is working with state and county health departments to stem the outbreak at its care center in southwest Cedar Rapids.
A total of six COVID-19 deaths have been reported so far in Iowa, with 51 Iowans hospitalized.
Dr. Tony Myers of Mercy Medical Center said datasets have shown that Linn County cases could peak in the next three to four weeks.
“What we do right now, over the next 10 to 14 days, determines how bad that peak is,” he said.