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Questions and Answers from Stakeholder Briefings

April 7, 2020

With the Governor moving her press conferences to 11, will this move so as not to conflict?
We will look into this and look for updated information from us.


What about individuals who have tested negative yet days later when worse, they test positive. Is this
negative number take out of the total that we keep getting told about?
The negative tests results would remain negative at the point in time the test was conducted the result
was negative. We are unable to discern if the subsequent positive test was an extension of an existing
illness or a subsequent exposure.


Governor just announced 102 new cases and 1 new death.


Has there been discussion of policy regarding Code Blue by EMS at home of known COVID-19
patients?
At this point, there is not any formal discussion among hospitals right now. We will discuss this with
hospital staff when the surge of patients happens.


Can we get greater county level data? For example race, ethnicity and hospitalizations?
We can provide age and hospitalization data. We cannot provide any other additional descriptive
information due to public health law.

With the Governor moving her press conferences to 11, will this move so as not to conflict?
We will look into this and look for updated information from us.


What about individuals who have tested negative yet days later when worse, they test positive. Is this
negative number take out of the total that we keep getting told about?
The negative tests results would remain negative at the point in time the test was conducted the result
was negative. We are unable to discern if the subsequent positive test was an extension of an existing
illness or a subsequent exposure.


Governor just announced 102 new cases and 1 new death.


Has there been discussion of policy regarding Code Blue by EMS at home of known COVID-19
patients?
At this point, there is not any formal discussion among hospitals right now. We will discuss this with
hospital staff when the surge of patients happens.


Can we get greater county level data? For example race, ethnicity and hospitalizations?
We can provide age and hospitalization data. We cannot provide any other additional descriptive
information due to public health law.


March 31, 2020

Does Polk County have enough tests and will it be expanded at some point? What is the testing
capability in Iowa – SHL, commercial and hospitals?
Testing is occurring with SHL due to established criteria and through providers and health systems. Each
health system can use their own lab or reference labs. There is not a specific allocation of tests by
county. Numbers and access to tests continues to be a part of the work of the medical coordination
center and public health.


Who is represented in the MCC?
The Medical Coordination Center is collaborating with staff members from Polk County Health
Department, Broadlawns Medical Center, UnityPoint Health, The Iowa Clinic, Primary Health Care,
MercyOne, Veterans Administration and Central Iowa EMA Directors Association.


How does EMS acquire about housing criteria?
Go through Polk County Fire Chief’s Association to access this information. Reach out to one of the fire
chief’s in your jurisdiction and give them this information.


Can you share good strategies we can use when people question facilities and individuals are being kept disclosed (ie. skilled care)? HIPPA is important it seems knowledgeable would be helpful. Is there way to balance that?
As based on public health law, we cannot give specific information about an ongoing health
investigation. When we do disclose specific locations because there is no other way others would have
that information about potential exposure. There is spread in the community so this is no benefit to
know specific places because anyone could get infected with COVID-19 at various places.


What are predictions for peak cases, beds, ventilators?
We are bringing on an epidemiologist to provide us with modeling expertise. Little too early to tell what
the models will look like.


Can someone put the app link Cameron just identified to request PPE?
Email logistics@polkcountyiowa.gov for the app link and the pin code.


How will ASCs be utilized in the metro if cases increase and the hospitals potentially become
overwhelmed?

A list of ASC’s in the DSM Metro Area has been established and is being integrated in the hospitals surge
planning process. This process is being coordinated across the hospital systems to allow for the most
efficient use of all available resources.


Determining daily burn rate of PPE? What hospitals are in danger of running out of or have run out?
By inputting the daily inventories of on stock PPE items, the Application will automatically calculate the
burn rate for you. This will require two plus days of inventories to be performed to make this accurate.
The more days in a row that this can be conducted, the more accurate the burn rate calculation within
the system will be and provide better information for resource allocation.


When is the medical COVID-19 town hall?
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 7:00 – 8:00 PM on channel 13 and on their website


When is the mental health COVID-19 town hall?
Thursday, April 2, 2020 7:00 – 8:00 PM on channel ABC5’s website


Can I participate in the modeling conversations as they occur?
We are bringing on an epidemiologist to provide us with modeling expertise. Little too early to tell what
the models will look like.


When will we have access to new tests that indicate who has it and who does not have it?
We do not currently have a timeline for these tests. We will provide more information when it becomes
available.


Where are they testing sites?
All COVID-19 testing is done through your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will determine
the testing criteria and if you qualify you will be tested. There are NO public testing sites.

Does Polk County have enough tests and will it be expanded at some point? What is the testing
capability in Iowa – SHL, commercial and hospitals?
Testing is occurring with SHL due to established criteria and through providers and health systems. Each
health system can use their own lab or reference labs. There is not a specific allocation of tests by
county. Numbers and access to tests continues to be a part of the work of the medical coordination
center and public health.


Who is represented in the MCC?
The Medical Coordination Center is collaborating with staff members from Polk County Health
Department, Broadlawns Medical Center, UnityPoint Health, The Iowa Clinic, Primary Health Care,
MercyOne, Veterans Administration and Central Iowa EMA Directors Association.


How does EMS acquire about housing criteria?
Go through Polk County Fire Chief’s Association to access this information. Reach out to one of the fire
chief’s in your jurisdiction and give them this information.


Can you share good strategies we can use when people question facilities and individuals are being kept disclosed (ie. skilled care)? HIPPA is important it seems knowledgeable would be helpful. Is there way to balance that?
As based on public health law, we cannot give specific information about an ongoing health
investigation. When we do disclose specific locations because there is no other way others would have
that information about potential exposure. There is spread in the community so this is no benefit to
know specific places because anyone could get infected with COVID-19 at various places.


What are predictions for peak cases, beds, ventilators?
We are bringing on an epidemiologist to provide us with modeling expertise. Little too early to tell what
the models will look like.


Can someone put the app link Cameron just identified to request PPE?
Email logistics@polkcountyiowa.gov for the app link and the pin code.


How will ASCs be utilized in the metro if cases increase and the hospitals potentially become
overwhelmed?

A list of ASC’s in the DSM Metro Area has been established and is being integrated in the hospitals surge
planning process. This process is being coordinated across the hospital systems to allow for the most
efficient use of all available resources.


Determining daily burn rate of PPE? What hospitals are in danger of running out of or have run out?
By inputting the daily inventories of on stock PPE items, the Application will automatically calculate the
burn rate for you. This will require two plus days of inventories to be performed to make this accurate.
The more days in a row that this can be conducted, the more accurate the burn rate calculation within
the system will be and provide better information for resource allocation.


When is the medical COVID-19 town hall?
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 7:00 – 8:00 PM on channel 13 and on their website


When is the mental health COVID-19 town hall?
Thursday, April 2, 2020 7:00 – 8:00 PM on channel ABC5’s website


Can I participate in the modeling conversations as they occur?
We are bringing on an epidemiologist to provide us with modeling expertise. Little too early to tell what
the models will look like.


When will we have access to new tests that indicate who has it and who does not have it?
We do not currently have a timeline for these tests. We will provide more information when it becomes
available.


Where are they testing sites?
All COVID-19 testing is done through your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will determine
the testing criteria and if you qualify you will be tested. There are NO public testing sites.


March 24, 2020

If person has household member who is exposed without symptoms do others in house need to
isolate?
Others who were not directly exposed do not have to self-isolation.


DSM Public Schools has confirmed cases of COVID-19. What is public health’s role in notifying
contacts?
Public health is working to reach out to those contacts and those at high risk for COVID-19.


Postal Service is Essential, is County and Local Law Enforcement aware USPS are essential?
We will seek clarification because we do not have a shelter-in-place order.
What is considered to be symptoms of COVID-19?
Primary well documented are fever, cough (dry cough) and shortness of breath. Some reporting
tiredness and aches/pains. Most cases (80% or more) are mild to moderate cases with very mild
symptoms. There are other illnesses circulating including the flu.
A lot of people are talking about sewing posts on social media. Are you accepting handmade masks
right now?
Right now, we are asking the public if you have personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and
gloves that they would like to donate, please reach out to Polk County Health Department for
instructions on how to drop them off.
How can we request PEE for Food pantry and front line staff?
If you have a PPE request - email Emergency.Management@PolkCountyIowa.gov
Quite a few manufacturers with 3d printing capabilities any thoughts of reaching out to them?
Reach out to sip@safeguardiowa.org with opportunities to vet these items
Thought to hospital surge capacity?
Our Medical Coordination Center is establishing alternative surge sites with ambulatory centers in the
metro.
How is volunteerism impacted if reach shelter-in-place order?
We will explore that if we get to that point.
If mandated to shelter in place, will critical preventative maintenance will need to continue?
We will explore that if we get to that point.
105 Cases in Iowa? Is this accurate?
Visit IDPH’s website for up-to-date information on cases.
Resource to obtain larger quantity of hand sanitizer?
We haven't heard of central locations. Some distilleries are making hand sanitizer. The Foundry in Valley
Junction will have hand sanitizer from noon – 6:00 PM. Make sure to bring your own bottle.
When / how will shelter in place order come?
The Governor will make that decision and not a Polk County decision.
When will we see faster turnaround on testing?
There is a back log in labs right now, no clear cut answer right now.
Has anyone seen reliable model for central Iowa impact?
We have not received any modeling from IDPH. If and when we do, we will share it.
Story last night on news said Iowa Prisons will be making sanitizer?
Our staff has not heard this.
Will there be guidelines for future food distribution to the community?
Our staff will research issue and pass along information. No lack of food for community noted at this
point. Polk County food pantry’s are continuing to get distributions and taking out to cars at locations.

If person has household member who is exposed without symptoms do others in house need to
isolate?
Others who were not directly exposed do not have to self-isolation.


DSM Public Schools has confirmed cases of COVID-19. What is public health’s role in notifying
contacts?
Public health is working to reach out to those contacts and those at high risk for COVID-19.


Postal Service is Essential, is County and Local Law Enforcement aware USPS are essential?
We will seek clarification because we do not have a shelter-in-place order.
What is considered to be symptoms of COVID-19?
Primary well documented are fever, cough (dry cough) and shortness of breath. Some reporting
tiredness and aches/pains. Most cases (80% or more) are mild to moderate cases with very mild
symptoms. There are other illnesses circulating including the flu.
A lot of people are talking about sewing posts on social media. Are you accepting handmade masks
right now?
Right now, we are asking the public if you have personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and
gloves that they would like to donate, please reach out to Polk County Health Department for
instructions on how to drop them off.
How can we request PEE for Food pantry and front line staff?
If you have a PPE request - email Emergency.Management@PolkCountyIowa.gov
Quite a few manufacturers with 3d printing capabilities any thoughts of reaching out to them?
Reach out to sip@safeguardiowa.org with opportunities to vet these items
Thought to hospital surge capacity?
Our Medical Coordination Center is establishing alternative surge sites with ambulatory centers in the
metro.
How is volunteerism impacted if reach shelter-in-place order?
We will explore that if we get to that point.
If mandated to shelter in place, will critical preventative maintenance will need to continue?
We will explore that if we get to that point.
105 Cases in Iowa? Is this accurate?
Visit IDPH’s website for up-to-date information on cases.
Resource to obtain larger quantity of hand sanitizer?
We haven't heard of central locations. Some distilleries are making hand sanitizer. The Foundry in Valley
Junction will have hand sanitizer from noon – 6:00 PM. Make sure to bring your own bottle.
When / how will shelter in place order come?
The Governor will make that decision and not a Polk County decision.
When will we see faster turnaround on testing?
There is a back log in labs right now, no clear cut answer right now.
Has anyone seen reliable model for central Iowa impact?
We have not received any modeling from IDPH. If and when we do, we will share it.
Story last night on news said Iowa Prisons will be making sanitizer?
Our staff has not heard this.
Will there be guidelines for future food distribution to the community?
Our staff will research issue and pass along information. No lack of food for community noted at this
point. Polk County food pantry’s are continuing to get distributions and taking out to cars at locations.


April 14, 2020

I have a questions on PPE for non-medical industries. I am hearing about counterfeit PPE on the market. Is this something you can elaborate on?

Use the system and request PPE through your emergency management system. We have a process of venting the vendors to make sure they are reputable. Please email us what vendors you are concerned about and we will vet them.

Do not vary from the standards you normally do when purchasing supplies for your organization. This will help ensure you are buying from valid vendors.

Last week, information was shared for grants for families who have children with disabilities needing respite. How can I get more information that?

Information can be found on Polk County Health Department website at: https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health/programs/covid-19/mental-health-covid-19-resources/

Do you predict the high number of cases occurring in Eastern Iowa to hit Central Iowa the same way? Or do you see Polk County plateauing in the near future?

This is hard to predict. We are look at numbers and looking at it closely. Each area is dealing with different circumstances than what Eastern Iowa is dealing with.

Can we have a dominator for status board? Number of tested ordered and resulted. If few are tested, the results may not be as reliable. Test lag time is useful as day tested/=day resulted.

We can push up this request to Iowa Department of Public Health for positive and negative results.

How are the presumptive positive cases counted in the numbers reported or are they reported? For example, I am aware of a family where only one parents has been tested, which was positive. The rest of the family has symptoms, haven’t been tested but are presumed positive. What are the numbers for presumptive positives in our community?

We are not formally tracking EPI link cases when there is community spread. We work with families in Polk County and informally track those families. There are challenges and limitations to how we share this information but we can work on providing the information.

Can you send the link to the family guide for the different conversations?

The family guide is found under the first responders and law enforcement tabs on our COVID-19 portion of our website. https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/626055/make-a-plan-toolkit.pdf

 

How are we planning to expand capacity for contact tracing within Polk County?

We are using guidance to expand contact tracing from IDPH. We are also using the new guidance from IDPH on businesses.

 

 

 

I have a questions on PPE for non-medical industries. I am hearing about counterfeit PPE on the market. Is this something you can elaborate on?

Use the system and request PPE through your emergency management system. We have a process of venting the vendors to make sure they are reputable. Please email us what vendors you are concerned about and we will vet them.

Do not vary from the standards you normally do when purchasing supplies for your organization. This will help ensure you are buying from valid vendors.

Last week, information was shared for grants for families who have children with disabilities needing respite. How can I get more information that?

Information can be found on Polk County Health Department website at: https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health/programs/covid-19/mental-health-covid-19-resources/

Do you predict the high number of cases occurring in Eastern Iowa to hit Central Iowa the same way? Or do you see Polk County plateauing in the near future?

This is hard to predict. We are look at numbers and looking at it closely. Each area is dealing with different circumstances than what Eastern Iowa is dealing with.

Can we have a dominator for status board? Number of tested ordered and resulted. If few are tested, the results may not be as reliable. Test lag time is useful as day tested/=day resulted.

We can push up this request to Iowa Department of Public Health for positive and negative results.

How are the presumptive positive cases counted in the numbers reported or are they reported? For example, I am aware of a family where only one parents has been tested, which was positive. The rest of the family has symptoms, haven’t been tested but are presumed positive. What are the numbers for presumptive positives in our community?

We are not formally tracking EPI link cases when there is community spread. We work with families in Polk County and informally track those families. There are challenges and limitations to how we share this information but we can work on providing the information.

Can you send the link to the family guide for the different conversations?

The family guide is found under the first responders and law enforcement tabs on our COVID-19 portion of our website. https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/626055/make-a-plan-toolkit.pdf

 

How are we planning to expand capacity for contact tracing within Polk County?

We are using guidance to expand contact tracing from IDPH. We are also using the new guidance from IDPH on businesses.

 

 

 


April 21, 2020

 

Can you send us minutes/highlights of today’s meeting?

We publish the daily briefing slides on our website so we can see all of the information from our daily meetings and situation reports. https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health/programs/covid-19/situation-reports-and-daily-briefings/

Are we testing family members of positive cases?

We do not test every single member in the family due to the limited of cases and the risk of exposure to our healthcare workers.

Do the hospitalization and death numbers reported for Polk County involve Polk County residents only, or anyone hospitalized in Polk County even if they reside in the surrounding area?

Hospitalizations and deaths are reported for those in Polk County only.

In terms of COVID-19 deaths, are the demographics available? Race? Gender? Etc.?

Visit https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ for demographic information.

Many states are reported COVID-19 data including demographics. Is Iowa reporting the data by race? If not, is that information available specific to Polk County? When will it be reported?

Visit https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ for demographic information.

Are there any concerns of contaminated tests in Iowa as health officials are reporting this issue in certain states?

We have not seen an issue with this to date in Polk County.

Is Polk County/Iowa looking into using contact tracing apps as an addition to the interview being conduction for positive tests?

We consider how technology can complement the work we do. There is an absence of research that helps us to know if the apps are effective and efficient. The apps can also be a violation of HIPAA.

With you tracking family members and contact tracing them, are they included in numbers? Is the case number a true reflection of the infection rate in Polk County?

The numbers of cases are reflected by the number of positive tested in Polk County.

 

 

Can you name the congregate facilities being monitored?

We cannot release this information as it an ongoing public health investigation and that violates public health laws.  There are facilities that the Governor shares on her website when they reach an outbreak status.

How many are being currently asked to quarantine in the state because of potential exposure?

We do not have access to that information on states numbers.

How many people are being currently served at the fairgrounds? And, how many have been served so far?

Iowa law provides that certain information, data and records collected under public health legal authority are confident and may not be disclosed to the public. We know this law is complex and requires approval by the state. This is why we cannot provide if and how many patients are staying at the fairgrounds.

Does anyone have an update on the timing of phasing in the reopening of Iowa’s economy?

We do not have an update on the timing of when Iowa will be reopened. This information comes from Governor Reynolds.

Are other long term centers (not in Polk Co.) able to request PPE?

Long-term care centers not in Polk County will need to reach out to their county’s emergency management to request PPE.

Are contact tracers encouraging the use of the fairgrounds when they encounter those positives residing in large multi-person households?

The voluntary shelter is for those who test positive for COVID-19.We also provide large families on guidance on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in large families.  We have been looking at other options for families who need housing resources.

Do we know to what degree they are increasing surveillance testing at Tyson’s Perry plant?

They are not doing surveillance testing. If they have symptoms, they will call their healthcare provider to see if they need to be tested. We are working with Dallas County and Polk County Health Systems to work on encouraging Tyson to test their employees.

Can you tell us the percentage of available PPE that is the result of donations?

85% of available PPE is from donations.

Where will test Iowa drive thru’s be in Iowa?

We are working with the state with this to make sure we have a plan in place. We hope that by the end of this week, we will have a more solid plan to share with the community.

What are the additional options for storage capacity for deceased?

We have two viable locations for additional storage capacity for deceased.

When do you anticipate a surge?

There are too many variables to predict when we will surge.

What is the normal average deaths per week in Polk County? What the deaths per week in the last two months?

Visit https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ for demographic information.

The governor just announced there will be mass testing at the Iowa Events Center starting Saturday? Is Polk County involved?

Polk County EMA is in daily discussions with the State. We have submitted a list of questions and concerns. We are working with the State to address these.

 

Can you send us minutes/highlights of today’s meeting?

We publish the daily briefing slides on our website so we can see all of the information from our daily meetings and situation reports. https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health/programs/covid-19/situation-reports-and-daily-briefings/

Are we testing family members of positive cases?

We do not test every single member in the family due to the limited of cases and the risk of exposure to our healthcare workers.

Do the hospitalization and death numbers reported for Polk County involve Polk County residents only, or anyone hospitalized in Polk County even if they reside in the surrounding area?

Hospitalizations and deaths are reported for those in Polk County only.

In terms of COVID-19 deaths, are the demographics available? Race? Gender? Etc.?

Visit https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ for demographic information.

Many states are reported COVID-19 data including demographics. Is Iowa reporting the data by race? If not, is that information available specific to Polk County? When will it be reported?

Visit https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ for demographic information.

Are there any concerns of contaminated tests in Iowa as health officials are reporting this issue in certain states?

We have not seen an issue with this to date in Polk County.

Is Polk County/Iowa looking into using contact tracing apps as an addition to the interview being conduction for positive tests?

We consider how technology can complement the work we do. There is an absence of research that helps us to know if the apps are effective and efficient. The apps can also be a violation of HIPAA.

With you tracking family members and contact tracing them, are they included in numbers? Is the case number a true reflection of the infection rate in Polk County?

The numbers of cases are reflected by the number of positive tested in Polk County.

 

 

Can you name the congregate facilities being monitored?

We cannot release this information as it an ongoing public health investigation and that violates public health laws.  There are facilities that the Governor shares on her website when they reach an outbreak status.

How many are being currently asked to quarantine in the state because of potential exposure?

We do not have access to that information on states numbers.

How many people are being currently served at the fairgrounds? And, how many have been served so far?

Iowa law provides that certain information, data and records collected under public health legal authority are confident and may not be disclosed to the public. We know this law is complex and requires approval by the state. This is why we cannot provide if and how many patients are staying at the fairgrounds.

Does anyone have an update on the timing of phasing in the reopening of Iowa’s economy?

We do not have an update on the timing of when Iowa will be reopened. This information comes from Governor Reynolds.

Are other long term centers (not in Polk Co.) able to request PPE?

Long-term care centers not in Polk County will need to reach out to their county’s emergency management to request PPE.

Are contact tracers encouraging the use of the fairgrounds when they encounter those positives residing in large multi-person households?

The voluntary shelter is for those who test positive for COVID-19.We also provide large families on guidance on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in large families.  We have been looking at other options for families who need housing resources.

Do we know to what degree they are increasing surveillance testing at Tyson’s Perry plant?

They are not doing surveillance testing. If they have symptoms, they will call their healthcare provider to see if they need to be tested. We are working with Dallas County and Polk County Health Systems to work on encouraging Tyson to test their employees.

Can you tell us the percentage of available PPE that is the result of donations?

85% of available PPE is from donations.

Where will test Iowa drive thru’s be in Iowa?

We are working with the state with this to make sure we have a plan in place. We hope that by the end of this week, we will have a more solid plan to share with the community.

What are the additional options for storage capacity for deceased?

We have two viable locations for additional storage capacity for deceased.

When do you anticipate a surge?

There are too many variables to predict when we will surge.

What is the normal average deaths per week in Polk County? What the deaths per week in the last two months?

Visit https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ for demographic information.

The governor just announced there will be mass testing at the Iowa Events Center starting Saturday? Is Polk County involved?

Polk County EMA is in daily discussions with the State. We have submitted a list of questions and concerns. We are working with the State to address these.


April 28, 2020

It seems like Polk County has the expertise it needs to contact sufficient contract tracing. Two questions: do you get the feeling that other Iowa counties are mastering this task or struggling with it? Question 2: how much money are you spending on the county’s COVID response, including contact tracing?

Polk County has the expertise and the expert team to do this work but the sheer volume of positive cases is overwhelming our ability to do that. With Test Iowa coming online and up to 750 additional tests per day that would be going through the county at some time, it was no longer feasible for us to do this. The State has asked whether to turn the cases in to the county or to keep working on them. We know the majority of the counties have turned their cases over to the state.

Question 2: Difficult question to answer at this point. Keith described how county departments are tracking those costs. We are doing everything we can to tie our objectives and the responsibilities we have with the cost to give us the best chance possible of reimbursement under the presidential disaster declaration. We are utilizing grants when possible. The donations have greatly beneficiated our team and community. Secondary benefit – the donations in our system can assign a market value to the donations and that helps offset a cost match under the presidential disaster declaration.

How would a health care professional access or refer to the isolation center?

Process up until now would come from the Polk County Health Department. The state would provide the county with the records and the county would provide follow up to the patient. The county would take to the patient about isolation and what their options and restrictions were and then make a referral to the shelter. Local providers who have knowledge that a person is positive and experiencing homeless should still go through the Polk County Health Department Communicable Disease team at 286-3890. They will talk through with the provider the same things…if there are any alternatives, medically stable and a positive test. Then the Health Department will work with the shelter on how to transport the person to the shelter. We would like to make sure providers send the patient with appropriate medications.

Why isn’t more explanation being given to what we consider underlying conditions in our county and state? Also at what age does elderly begin?

COVID-19 is a new disease that we have limited and evolving information regarding the risk factors. The CDC considers elderly people 65 years and older and people of any age who have an underlying health condition that may be at greater risk for severity and illness with COVID-19. A number of those types of conditions are those with chronic lung disease, heart conditions, immunocompromised, etc. The CDC does identify severe obesity of a body mass index of 40 or higher in additional to diabetes, chronic liver disease, kidney disease that can be a risk factor for severe disease with COVID-19. In Polk County, we have not seen a high association between obesity and severe disease but again, this is something that is evolving and we will learn more as we go further and see more illness and analyze illness trends.

Seven confirmed cases in the jail. Have there been anymore?

No new cases at the jail. We are still at 7 cases.

How to wear a mask and how to store and dispose of masks properly? Or have the governor cover this in her daily briefing?

A lot of recommendations out there for how to wear a mask. There is CDC guidance that has been shared by the EOC and Polk County Health Department. Visit Polk County website on the proper manufacturing and production of cloth masks and how to wear them.

MercyOne was yellow coded for staffing, what exactly does this mean and are they short staffed to the point of impacting care?

MercyOne is showing yellow and surging right now. Staffing is also surging a little. When you have more patients, you need more staff. Patient care is not compromised by any means. They do have staffing, its not short staffed. We are just seeing an uptick of what they need at their hospital.

IDPH removing guidance for self-isolation if a person travels out of state, does Polk County have any guidance or is this no longer necessary?

With widespread community transmission, limiting opportunities for exposure with social distancing and staying home as much as possible, those recommendations are still valid recommendations.

Is there an adequate supply of level 3 face masks?

Level 3 face mask is a very specific type of face mask. While it may look like a surgical mask, it provides a little bit better protection.  Unfortunately, our donations that we are receiving do not have that they are a level 3 labeled on them when they may be a level 3.  We have an adequate supply of face masks but cannot say there is an adequate supply of level 3.

Are some of the PPE donations coming from businesses, and if so, will their personnel be appropriately protected as their business operations resume or continue?

We are receiving excess PPE from businesses and not what they would need to protect their staff.

Are there any guidelines for summer camps such as a number of children or space or whether or not it should even happen?

Refer that question to IDPH and the Governor’s office.

How are we monitoring residents in Polk County who are possibly traveling to from other counties that are slowly  are opening?

We do not have a mechanism to monitor people who are traveling between open and closed counties.

 

I’ve been told that the meat packers are busing people from closed plants to open plants. Do you know about this and if so, what are we doing about it?

Polk County EMA, Dallas County EMA, Polk County Health Department and Dallas County Health Department have worked closely and directly with Tyson and we think that resulted with doing surveillance testing in the last couple of days. We will continue to work with Tyson and anyone else in other situations.

How are we going to get tested done for those who may have had the virus as early as December, January or February and didn’t know what the lung infection was. Maybe a number of have it and have the immunity?

As Serology tests become available, those test results will tell us who has immunity to the virus and who does not. We do not think there has been any conclusive studies to show how protective the antibody response is to the virus and if you can or cannot get it one or more times.   

Are local and country residents being screened and temperature checks? How do you differentiate from allergies and COVID-19?

We cannot speak to what the cities are doing. At the county level, employees are being screened and temperature checks. It is very difficult to be able to differentiate between allergies and other respiratory symptoms of COVID-19. That is why our guidance has been to stay away from others if they are having symptoms. People who have known allergies that offers them a baseline that they can determine or not if their symptoms are consistent or not with normal allergy season for them or something above and beyond what they typically experience.

Linn County has created a specific county dashboard. Can we do something similar?

We can have a discussion between Polk County EMA, Polk County Health Department and Polk County IT to see if this is something they can do.

After talking to labs, serology testing can only show there has been exposure to coronavirus and not COVID-19.

This is new testing that is coming out so as serology testing is approved, there will be information that accompanies that testing that tells us what information is provided by a positive result and what limitations there may be with that testing.

It seems like Polk County has the expertise it needs to contact sufficient contract tracing. Two questions: do you get the feeling that other Iowa counties are mastering this task or struggling with it? Question 2: how much money are you spending on the county’s COVID response, including contact tracing?

Polk County has the expertise and the expert team to do this work but the sheer volume of positive cases is overwhelming our ability to do that. With Test Iowa coming online and up to 750 additional tests per day that would be going through the county at some time, it was no longer feasible for us to do this. The State has asked whether to turn the cases in to the county or to keep working on them. We know the majority of the counties have turned their cases over to the state.

Question 2: Difficult question to answer at this point. Keith described how county departments are tracking those costs. We are doing everything we can to tie our objectives and the responsibilities we have with the cost to give us the best chance possible of reimbursement under the presidential disaster declaration. We are utilizing grants when possible. The donations have greatly beneficiated our team and community. Secondary benefit – the donations in our system can assign a market value to the donations and that helps offset a cost match under the presidential disaster declaration.

How would a health care professional access or refer to the isolation center?

Process up until now would come from the Polk County Health Department. The state would provide the county with the records and the county would provide follow up to the patient. The county would take to the patient about isolation and what their options and restrictions were and then make a referral to the shelter. Local providers who have knowledge that a person is positive and experiencing homeless should still go through the Polk County Health Department Communicable Disease team at 286-3890. They will talk through with the provider the same things…if there are any alternatives, medically stable and a positive test. Then the Health Department will work with the shelter on how to transport the person to the shelter. We would like to make sure providers send the patient with appropriate medications.

Why isn’t more explanation being given to what we consider underlying conditions in our county and state? Also at what age does elderly begin?

COVID-19 is a new disease that we have limited and evolving information regarding the risk factors. The CDC considers elderly people 65 years and older and people of any age who have an underlying health condition that may be at greater risk for severity and illness with COVID-19. A number of those types of conditions are those with chronic lung disease, heart conditions, immunocompromised, etc. The CDC does identify severe obesity of a body mass index of 40 or higher in additional to diabetes, chronic liver disease, kidney disease that can be a risk factor for severe disease with COVID-19. In Polk County, we have not seen a high association between obesity and severe disease but again, this is something that is evolving and we will learn more as we go further and see more illness and analyze illness trends.

Seven confirmed cases in the jail. Have there been anymore?

No new cases at the jail. We are still at 7 cases.

How to wear a mask and how to store and dispose of masks properly? Or have the governor cover this in her daily briefing?

A lot of recommendations out there for how to wear a mask. There is CDC guidance that has been shared by the EOC and Polk County Health Department. Visit Polk County website on the proper manufacturing and production of cloth masks and how to wear them.

MercyOne was yellow coded for staffing, what exactly does this mean and are they short staffed to the point of impacting care?

MercyOne is showing yellow and surging right now. Staffing is also surging a little. When you have more patients, you need more staff. Patient care is not compromised by any means. They do have staffing, its not short staffed. We are just seeing an uptick of what they need at their hospital.

IDPH removing guidance for self-isolation if a person travels out of state, does Polk County have any guidance or is this no longer necessary?

With widespread community transmission, limiting opportunities for exposure with social distancing and staying home as much as possible, those recommendations are still valid recommendations.

Is there an adequate supply of level 3 face masks?

Level 3 face mask is a very specific type of face mask. While it may look like a surgical mask, it provides a little bit better protection.  Unfortunately, our donations that we are receiving do not have that they are a level 3 labeled on them when they may be a level 3.  We have an adequate supply of face masks but cannot say there is an adequate supply of level 3.

Are some of the PPE donations coming from businesses, and if so, will their personnel be appropriately protected as their business operations resume or continue?

We are receiving excess PPE from businesses and not what they would need to protect their staff.

Are there any guidelines for summer camps such as a number of children or space or whether or not it should even happen?

Refer that question to IDPH and the Governor’s office.

How are we monitoring residents in Polk County who are possibly traveling to from other counties that are slowly  are opening?

We do not have a mechanism to monitor people who are traveling between open and closed counties.

 

I’ve been told that the meat packers are busing people from closed plants to open plants. Do you know about this and if so, what are we doing about it?

Polk County EMA, Dallas County EMA, Polk County Health Department and Dallas County Health Department have worked closely and directly with Tyson and we think that resulted with doing surveillance testing in the last couple of days. We will continue to work with Tyson and anyone else in other situations.

How are we going to get tested done for those who may have had the virus as early as December, January or February and didn’t know what the lung infection was. Maybe a number of have it and have the immunity?

As Serology tests become available, those test results will tell us who has immunity to the virus and who does not. We do not think there has been any conclusive studies to show how protective the antibody response is to the virus and if you can or cannot get it one or more times.   

Are local and country residents being screened and temperature checks? How do you differentiate from allergies and COVID-19?

We cannot speak to what the cities are doing. At the county level, employees are being screened and temperature checks. It is very difficult to be able to differentiate between allergies and other respiratory symptoms of COVID-19. That is why our guidance has been to stay away from others if they are having symptoms. People who have known allergies that offers them a baseline that they can determine or not if their symptoms are consistent or not with normal allergy season for them or something above and beyond what they typically experience.

Linn County has created a specific county dashboard. Can we do something similar?

We can have a discussion between Polk County EMA, Polk County Health Department and Polk County IT to see if this is something they can do.

After talking to labs, serology testing can only show there has been exposure to coronavirus and not COVID-19.

This is new testing that is coming out so as serology testing is approved, there will be information that accompanies that testing that tells us what information is provided by a positive result and what limitations there may be with that testing.


May 5, 2020

Can you provide an update on antibody testing and whether the county or state have a plan for this testing or if individuals want to pursue this, how to best go about it?

We are seeing the use of antibody testing emerging as this has been approved for testing. We are seeing reference labs that are starting to utilize this. Healthcare providers have some access to it. We are awaiting if local health departments will be able to access this type of testing through the state. There has been some limited testing we’ve heard for antibodies with some of the mass testing through the businesses. This is evolving and emerging.

What is the status of housing and evictions for low-income individuals?

On March 20, 2020, the Governor added to her proclamation that no one should be evicted from their residence at this time. If you are hearing of people being evicted, please reach out to the Governor’s Constituent Line at (515) 281-5211. The Polk County Sherriff’s office is not evicting anyone.

Can you address whether cities should cancel or modify 4th of July events?

This is something we are continuing to monitor the situation, what the Governor is sharing with in terms of plans for Iowa and county by county. We are trying to look at what this guidance looks like if counties or communities shouldn’t open up per the Governor or if they would.

What was the number of calls to 211?

13,949 211 calls from Polk County residents during 3/8-5/2/2020.

Do the 33 long-term care facilities being monitored with no outbreak, all have at least one positive case?

Yes, at least one positive case.

Is there any recommendation on isolation for those who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive, but have no symptoms?

The guidance continues to be to self-isolate for 14 days if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Monitor for symptoms during that 14-day period.

What are the recommendations for those who have an “inconclusive” test result?

If someone has an inconclusive test result, they should work with their provider and the lab for any retesting protocols.                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

 

According to a New York Times Article Yesterday, Des Moines has the 4th "highest average daily growth of cases of metropolitan communities in the country.  It lists the daily growth rate at 15%.  It places Des Moines on a "watch list," so to speak.  Are you bracing for a surge, especially in light of plans to continue to reopen the state?

We have been planning for a potential surge since the beginning of the pandemic and that has been the work of our Medical Coordination Center. They have put together strong plans to be able to respond to that. We continue to monitor the situation and monitor the status of our hospitals on a daily basis. So this is something we have been planning for in case it should happen.

If an organization is aware that an employee has a positive COVID-19 test does the state and local public health do the contact tracing or is the organization responsible? Do employees have to notify their employer of a positive test?

The Iowa Department of Public Health for the contact investigation and contact tracing for the positive COVID-19 tests, individuals and cases in Polk County. We encourage employers to take a look at where a positive employee might be, who they may have come in contact with and taking action in terms of cleaning and following guidance that we have on our website to address the positive case. They should also look at the quarantine and isolation guidance as well.

Employees are strongly encouraged to notify their employer of a positive test but they are not required to do so.  

Last week there were seven confirmed cases at the Polk County Jail. Have there been any more cases?

To date, 8 positive cases at the jail. However, there are only 4 people who are in custody that have tested positive.

Where might I find the image with the new 10 day isolation information on it?

This information is located on our website under communication resources.

Is there guidance for making gowns to donate, as with the masks?

Iowa Department of Public Health put that guidance out a while ago. People are having a difficult time finding materials to make homemade gowns.

Any guidance on summer camps and how those will open given the governors comments yesterday?

In regards to summer camps, we need to continue to monitor and see what the Governor providers in terms of her guidance for the state and plan for different eventualities

What plans are you referring to when you said you "We have been planning for a surge... and getting ready to activate those plans.”

There are a series of interrelations plans starting with individual hospitals. Individual hospitals on how to allocate the resources they have – staff, and beds. As they need to depend upon other health facilities either within their health system, they can move patients, allocate resources accordingly. As it escalates up between health systems, the hospitals in the metro can work together to distribute patients that best matches the resources available. Then you can move up one step further to a regional surge plan, this would be across the 27 counties that are included in the service area 1A, 1B and 1C. All of those hospitals working together to identify available beds, staff and logistics in a way that makes the most sense to match up the level of care with the resources available. That might me releasing patients or moving patients from a higher level of care to a critical access hospital.

PCHD had been doing some contact tracing. Has that all now switched to state contact tracing?  How many currently being traced?

The state assumed case contact and contact tracing. There are approximately 1,000 people that are currently being under investigation and contact tracing in process.   

And to clarify again - you're preparing to activate those plans?  And if so, when do you anticipate doing so?

The plans are prepared as a contingency. Each day the balance and demand of those resources to continue to change. It is a very dynamic process. Those surge plans exist to allow us to exercise those plans, to activate and implement those plans if needed. At this point, the hospitals have implemented their internal hospital system plan but there has not been a need to implement a regional surge plan.

Can you be more specific about where to find the new guidelines for return to work? The document I just found on your website was updated 4/28 and says 7 days

On our website under communication resources and frequently asked questions.

Who is the POC regarding what was said about the return to work letters?

Kari Lebeda Townsend is the contact for this.

Can you provide an update on antibody testing and whether the county or state have a plan for this testing or if individuals want to pursue this, how to best go about it?

We are seeing the use of antibody testing emerging as this has been approved for testing. We are seeing reference labs that are starting to utilize this. Healthcare providers have some access to it. We are awaiting if local health departments will be able to access this type of testing through the state. There has been some limited testing we’ve heard for antibodies with some of the mass testing through the businesses. This is evolving and emerging.

What is the status of housing and evictions for low-income individuals?

On March 20, 2020, the Governor added to her proclamation that no one should be evicted from their residence at this time. If you are hearing of people being evicted, please reach out to the Governor’s Constituent Line at (515) 281-5211. The Polk County Sherriff’s office is not evicting anyone.

Can you address whether cities should cancel or modify 4th of July events?

This is something we are continuing to monitor the situation, what the Governor is sharing with in terms of plans for Iowa and county by county. We are trying to look at what this guidance looks like if counties or communities shouldn’t open up per the Governor or if they would.

What was the number of calls to 211?

13,949 211 calls from Polk County residents during 3/8-5/2/2020.

Do the 33 long-term care facilities being monitored with no outbreak, all have at least one positive case?

Yes, at least one positive case.

Is there any recommendation on isolation for those who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive, but have no symptoms?

The guidance continues to be to self-isolate for 14 days if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Monitor for symptoms during that 14-day period.

What are the recommendations for those who have an “inconclusive” test result?

If someone has an inconclusive test result, they should work with their provider and the lab for any retesting protocols.                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

 

According to a New York Times Article Yesterday, Des Moines has the 4th "highest average daily growth of cases of metropolitan communities in the country.  It lists the daily growth rate at 15%.  It places Des Moines on a "watch list," so to speak.  Are you bracing for a surge, especially in light of plans to continue to reopen the state?

We have been planning for a potential surge since the beginning of the pandemic and that has been the work of our Medical Coordination Center. They have put together strong plans to be able to respond to that. We continue to monitor the situation and monitor the status of our hospitals on a daily basis. So this is something we have been planning for in case it should happen.

If an organization is aware that an employee has a positive COVID-19 test does the state and local public health do the contact tracing or is the organization responsible? Do employees have to notify their employer of a positive test?

The Iowa Department of Public Health for the contact investigation and contact tracing for the positive COVID-19 tests, individuals and cases in Polk County. We encourage employers to take a look at where a positive employee might be, who they may have come in contact with and taking action in terms of cleaning and following guidance that we have on our website to address the positive case. They should also look at the quarantine and isolation guidance as well.

Employees are strongly encouraged to notify their employer of a positive test but they are not required to do so.  

Last week there were seven confirmed cases at the Polk County Jail. Have there been any more cases?

To date, 8 positive cases at the jail. However, there are only 4 people who are in custody that have tested positive.

Where might I find the image with the new 10 day isolation information on it?

This information is located on our website under communication resources.

Is there guidance for making gowns to donate, as with the masks?

Iowa Department of Public Health put that guidance out a while ago. People are having a difficult time finding materials to make homemade gowns.

Any guidance on summer camps and how those will open given the governors comments yesterday?

In regards to summer camps, we need to continue to monitor and see what the Governor providers in terms of her guidance for the state and plan for different eventualities

What plans are you referring to when you said you "We have been planning for a surge... and getting ready to activate those plans.”

There are a series of interrelations plans starting with individual hospitals. Individual hospitals on how to allocate the resources they have – staff, and beds. As they need to depend upon other health facilities either within their health system, they can move patients, allocate resources accordingly. As it escalates up between health systems, the hospitals in the metro can work together to distribute patients that best matches the resources available. Then you can move up one step further to a regional surge plan, this would be across the 27 counties that are included in the service area 1A, 1B and 1C. All of those hospitals working together to identify available beds, staff and logistics in a way that makes the most sense to match up the level of care with the resources available. That might me releasing patients or moving patients from a higher level of care to a critical access hospital.

PCHD had been doing some contact tracing. Has that all now switched to state contact tracing?  How many currently being traced?

The state assumed case contact and contact tracing. There are approximately 1,000 people that are currently being under investigation and contact tracing in process.   

And to clarify again - you're preparing to activate those plans?  And if so, when do you anticipate doing so?

The plans are prepared as a contingency. Each day the balance and demand of those resources to continue to change. It is a very dynamic process. Those surge plans exist to allow us to exercise those plans, to activate and implement those plans if needed. At this point, the hospitals have implemented their internal hospital system plan but there has not been a need to implement a regional surge plan.

Can you be more specific about where to find the new guidelines for return to work? The document I just found on your website was updated 4/28 and says 7 days

On our website under communication resources and frequently asked questions.

Who is the POC regarding what was said about the return to work letters?

Kari Lebeda Townsend is the contact for this.


May 12, 2020

Since testing has become more available, do these positives include asymptomatic individuals who qualified to be tested?

We are aware there are people who have been tested who are asymptomatic. Testing is occurring at Test Iowa is different than their providers, reference labs and state hygienic lab.

What type of testing has been done at the long term care facilities with a confirmed case but no outbreak? Have all residents been tested? Are we waiting on test results?

Testing has been done based on contact tracing among residents and staff. This work has been done closely with the facility and our staff.

I remain all too aware of the number of people being refused tests despite having known contact with positive individuals, including a health care worker whose spouse and work colleagues can't get tests, or having significant symptoms and basically being verbally confirmed but told at the Unity Point respiratory clinic that they can't be referred for testing as they are not a health care worker. Could we have some straight talk about how testing is being allocated and how the numbers of "presumed positive" but no testing allowed are being handled? These specific examples are all in Polk County.

Testing in Polk County is a little complicated unfortunately. Testing is only more available if you consider Test Iowa more available. Testing is not more available at the healthcare facilities. There is still a shortage and we still have to follow IDPH guidelines if you are using the state hygienic lab and those guidelines are fairly strict. Asymptomatic people would not qualify. You need to have symptoms of COVID-19 to qualify for testing.  Testing guidelines is available on Iowa Department of Public Health’s website. The doctor looks at CDC guidelines and ultimately it is up to the doctor if they want to test you for COVID-19. We have to keep in consideration testing is used for the sickest of the sick. Testing is truly not readily available.

A new report shows an increase in cases of more than 70% in Polk County in the last week.  The report calls Polk County/Des Moines one of the top 10 hot spots in the country.  The Governor is expected to announce today further lifting of restrictions in Polk County.  Do you believe this is the time to do so?

The information that we shared today is really the prudent way for people to behave. I think that you’re hearing that our businesses are cautious to reopen, we are asking our residents to continue to use the mitigation tactics. Regarding it being the right time, I think what we see in our cases and our hospitalizations, the numbers of COVID-19 in Polk County are still increasing. All the preventative tips we have discussed are still required at this time. Whether a community is allowed to open, we hear the phrase, “just because we can, should we?” We have shared all the up-to-date data that we have so people can make those decisions appropriately.

Is the recommendation to check on positive COVID-19 friends/family about the sudden/increased risk of death at home OR about community resources (tracking/follow-up) being overwhelmed?

I think there are several reasons for making this recommendation. With COVID-19, we are encouraging people to self-isolate, to stay home to prevent the transmission of this virus and this is putting some distance between people. It is decreasing the opportunity to do things that we normally do in terms of checking on our loves ones. We are stressing the importance of checking on people when we are navigating a time where people are isolating and social distancing to make sure people are doing okay. As numbers of people who are ill with COVID-19 increase, this is a way for all of us to come together especially our more vulnerable populations. We make this recommendation during extreme heat. We need to be checking on others, clients to make sure people are doing okay. This is not an unusual recommendation that we would make.

Can you elaborate on the guidance you will be pushing out to long-term care facilities regarding supplies/PPE?

We have a list of questions for the vendor vetting process. Those questions will get pushed out as well as guidance to determine if your supply chain is fully function or not. We will also be putting out some guidance what PPE you should have on hand and what quantities. This will vary greatly from facility to facility.

Can you clarify whether there is Polk County specific business recovery guidance and where that info can be found?  Or should we still be using the IDPH guidance?  Has IDPH updated guidance since their 4/27 release and if so, where that information can be found?

Polk County Guidance can be found here: https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/d1fc4wa0/brp-05082020.pdf

I like the Strike Teams.  Any update on efforts to lessen the time between when the tests are given and people receive their results?  Many I've seen have been about a week delay for results.

A lot of it has to do with the number of tests that a lab has to process at any given time.

How many people are on the strike team? What tests are being used? Where are tests processed? Is it aimed at long-term care only or other businesses also? How is the team assigned?

Strike teams used for special situations such as a smaller facility that won’t qualify for a state strike team. This organization or business could be at the start of an outbreak or it could be working with a high risk population. We do this like we do in public health if it were for vaccinations or disease testing. Going forward, we will continue to look at this by a case-by-case basis in terms what the need is and what kind of staffing it would take to execute testing.

So Test Iowa and hygienic lab running essentially separate processes out of the same lab facility? And little coordination/collaboration?

That would be a question directed at state hygienic lab regarding how they are handling al the testing and specimens they are currently testing.

Since testing has become more available, do these positives include asymptomatic individuals who qualified to be tested?

We are aware there are people who have been tested who are asymptomatic. Testing is occurring at Test Iowa is different than their providers, reference labs and state hygienic lab.

What type of testing has been done at the long term care facilities with a confirmed case but no outbreak? Have all residents been tested? Are we waiting on test results?

Testing has been done based on contact tracing among residents and staff. This work has been done closely with the facility and our staff.

I remain all too aware of the number of people being refused tests despite having known contact with positive individuals, including a health care worker whose spouse and work colleagues can't get tests, or having significant symptoms and basically being verbally confirmed but told at the Unity Point respiratory clinic that they can't be referred for testing as they are not a health care worker. Could we have some straight talk about how testing is being allocated and how the numbers of "presumed positive" but no testing allowed are being handled? These specific examples are all in Polk County.

Testing in Polk County is a little complicated unfortunately. Testing is only more available if you consider Test Iowa more available. Testing is not more available at the healthcare facilities. There is still a shortage and we still have to follow IDPH guidelines if you are using the state hygienic lab and those guidelines are fairly strict. Asymptomatic people would not qualify. You need to have symptoms of COVID-19 to qualify for testing.  Testing guidelines is available on Iowa Department of Public Health’s website. The doctor looks at CDC guidelines and ultimately it is up to the doctor if they want to test you for COVID-19. We have to keep in consideration testing is used for the sickest of the sick. Testing is truly not readily available.

A new report shows an increase in cases of more than 70% in Polk County in the last week.  The report calls Polk County/Des Moines one of the top 10 hot spots in the country.  The Governor is expected to announce today further lifting of restrictions in Polk County.  Do you believe this is the time to do so?

The information that we shared today is really the prudent way for people to behave. I think that you’re hearing that our businesses are cautious to reopen, we are asking our residents to continue to use the mitigation tactics. Regarding it being the right time, I think what we see in our cases and our hospitalizations, the numbers of COVID-19 in Polk County are still increasing. All the preventative tips we have discussed are still required at this time. Whether a community is allowed to open, we hear the phrase, “just because we can, should we?” We have shared all the up-to-date data that we have so people can make those decisions appropriately.

Is the recommendation to check on positive COVID-19 friends/family about the sudden/increased risk of death at home OR about community resources (tracking/follow-up) being overwhelmed?

I think there are several reasons for making this recommendation. With COVID-19, we are encouraging people to self-isolate, to stay home to prevent the transmission of this virus and this is putting some distance between people. It is decreasing the opportunity to do things that we normally do in terms of checking on our loves ones. We are stressing the importance of checking on people when we are navigating a time where people are isolating and social distancing to make sure people are doing okay. As numbers of people who are ill with COVID-19 increase, this is a way for all of us to come together especially our more vulnerable populations. We make this recommendation during extreme heat. We need to be checking on others, clients to make sure people are doing okay. This is not an unusual recommendation that we would make.

Can you elaborate on the guidance you will be pushing out to long-term care facilities regarding supplies/PPE?

We have a list of questions for the vendor vetting process. Those questions will get pushed out as well as guidance to determine if your supply chain is fully function or not. We will also be putting out some guidance what PPE you should have on hand and what quantities. This will vary greatly from facility to facility.

Can you clarify whether there is Polk County specific business recovery guidance and where that info can be found?  Or should we still be using the IDPH guidance?  Has IDPH updated guidance since their 4/27 release and if so, where that information can be found?

Polk County Guidance can be found here: https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/d1fc4wa0/brp-05082020.pdf

I like the Strike Teams.  Any update on efforts to lessen the time between when the tests are given and people receive their results?  Many I've seen have been about a week delay for results.

A lot of it has to do with the number of tests that a lab has to process at any given time.

How many people are on the strike team? What tests are being used? Where are tests processed? Is it aimed at long-term care only or other businesses also? How is the team assigned?

Strike teams used for special situations such as a smaller facility that won’t qualify for a state strike team. This organization or business could be at the start of an outbreak or it could be working with a high risk population. We do this like we do in public health if it were for vaccinations or disease testing. Going forward, we will continue to look at this by a case-by-case basis in terms what the need is and what kind of staffing it would take to execute testing.

So Test Iowa and hygienic lab running essentially separate processes out of the same lab facility? And little coordination/collaboration?

That would be a question directed at state hygienic lab regarding how they are handling al the testing and specimens they are currently testing.


May 19, 2020

Last week there was an article on channel 5 website that Polk County found a vendor and was looking into purchasing its own testing. What happened with this? Is this still being looked at? Is the criteria to get a test being expanded?

One of the challenging things as a county is you would like some control over your destiny knowing that Test Iowa is taking a board approach to testing over the test. One of the areas we are exploring is strategic testing and putting in place a model that will serve our community to prevent widespread COVId-19 transmission or a second wave if it was going to occur. That will require additional testing and a system set up to actually to do something with the data once it happens. We are exploring those options at this point and we are in discussion with some Iowa based companies that have the capacity to help us. We feel quite certain we will have guidance to report on in the future. At this point, it is fair to knowledge that we are exploring it fully. It takes thoughtful and meaningful work to set up and make sure it is used effectively.

LTC outbreak # quite different from state’s website (Polk 24 vs state 7)—is state only reporting those >10% affected?

The Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting long term care facilities with outbreak on their website. Polk County Health Department is following any facility that has a case whether it is long term care, assisted living, or a group home. Our numbers include all of the above. That is the difference between Iowa Department of Public Health and Polk County Health Department numbers.

Is there a virtual place where county public health boards and emergency response teams are sharing local best practices? I think Dubuque County could take a lesson from what you are doing here. We are also building our own testing capacity outside the state government approval process.  No knight in shining armor is going to be riding to our rescue.

What we do at Polk County Emergency Management and at Polk County Health Department is along the way we have been documenting best practices. We meet with staff about best practices and areas for improvement. So much as has happened over the past couple of months. It is important to capture those practices along the way. We suggest everyone do this as the COVID-19 response keeps happening. There is no formal process at the local level. At the state level, there will be more likely a state after action plan.

Within the Medical Coordination Center, we have the Central Iowa EMS directors websites. www.ciems.org. All of their documentation for EMS is on their website and it includes best practices with COVID-19.

Is there a process in place for facilitating employee antibody testing for businesses in Polk County?

Currently, Iowa Department of Public Health is doing antibody testing in conjunction with PRC testing. At this time, antibody testing being done individually to make decisions about isolation or release from isolation is not occurring at this time. Antibody testing is emerging and as well learn more about it, we will expand its utility and how we will use it. Stay tuned, we will provide more information as it becomes available.

The county has guidance on reopening business. Who can we talk to about how this document to be used for our operations. Specifically, it says basketball courts and racquetball courts should be closed. is this a recommendation or a requirement?

We have been sending those specific questions to the State of Iowa. We are happy to do that and we can get back to you about that once we get that answer.

Can the county help business Identify vendors for business to purchase their own test for the workforce since it is unlikely the state will facilitate additional testing for return to work or students coming back to campuses in the fall?

At this time, there are certain lab vendors that our hospital systems have worked with. We are not sure of the vendors that may be available. We can take a look at this through logistics. We would caution everyone about scams. There are a lot people reaching out and claiming they have tests available for organizations to purchase. If you receive one of those emails and want us to look at it, please email us at logistics@polkcountyiowa.gov. We will take a look at it and see what we can do to help. As testing becomes more available, we suggest working through your occupational health contractor or your health system is the safest route for any business to go through in our community.

You had indicated on previous call that state took over contact tracing for Polk. Do we know how many monitored, how many people doing the work of tracing, and where we can get info from the state on this?

Any new cases that were received, notified or reported would be followed by the state since April 24th. If you look at Iowa Department of Public Health’s website and monitor new cases we have, that’s where numbers can be seen. The increases in new cases received reflected on that website would be cases followed by Iowa Department of Public Health. I would contact Iowa Department of Public Health if you want more information about case implementation and contact tracing.

Resilience webinars—are the 2 dates the same material or wk. 2 building on wk.1?

The material will be the same for both webinars. We will continue to push out new topics throughout the summer.

To what extent is contact tracing being completed?  We have had multiple employees with different scenarios stating their spouse or live-in family members have tested positive.  One employee had close contact with a family member not living with him and wasn't contacted by anyone.  Another employee said the daycare her kids go to had a confirmed positive case and she wasn't notified or contacted by anyone.  Some employees still report to work and are turned away at the checkpoints.

Questions about variances in contact tracing, I would encourage you to reach out to Iowa Department of Public Health and get some clarification on the difference between those cases and how they are handled.

In regards to a child care facility, please reach out to our communicable disease team at (515) 286-3890 to share some information and concerns. Our team is happy to look into that issue.

Do health officials think second wave is actually fall or likely summer given reopening too soon?

I wish we knew. We are monitoring the situation and we continue to monitor our numbers daily. I would say one of the concerns we have with a fall second wave is the simultaneous emergence of seasonal influenza on top of COVID-19. If we can give you one practical tip to protect yourself and your family is to get your seasonal flu shot. We will continue to monitor the emergence of a second wave.   

Last week there was an article on channel 5 website that Polk County found a vendor and was looking into purchasing its own testing. What happened with this? Is this still being looked at? Is the criteria to get a test being expanded?

One of the challenging things as a county is you would like some control over your destiny knowing that Test Iowa is taking a board approach to testing over the test. One of the areas we are exploring is strategic testing and putting in place a model that will serve our community to prevent widespread COVId-19 transmission or a second wave if it was going to occur. That will require additional testing and a system set up to actually to do something with the data once it happens. We are exploring those options at this point and we are in discussion with some Iowa based companies that have the capacity to help us. We feel quite certain we will have guidance to report on in the future. At this point, it is fair to knowledge that we are exploring it fully. It takes thoughtful and meaningful work to set up and make sure it is used effectively.

LTC outbreak # quite different from state’s website (Polk 24 vs state 7)—is state only reporting those >10% affected?

The Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting long term care facilities with outbreak on their website. Polk County Health Department is following any facility that has a case whether it is long term care, assisted living, or a group home. Our numbers include all of the above. That is the difference between Iowa Department of Public Health and Polk County Health Department numbers.

Is there a virtual place where county public health boards and emergency response teams are sharing local best practices? I think Dubuque County could take a lesson from what you are doing here. We are also building our own testing capacity outside the state government approval process.  No knight in shining armor is going to be riding to our rescue.

What we do at Polk County Emergency Management and at Polk County Health Department is along the way we have been documenting best practices. We meet with staff about best practices and areas for improvement. So much as has happened over the past couple of months. It is important to capture those practices along the way. We suggest everyone do this as the COVID-19 response keeps happening. There is no formal process at the local level. At the state level, there will be more likely a state after action plan.

Within the Medical Coordination Center, we have the Central Iowa EMS directors websites. www.ciems.org. All of their documentation for EMS is on their website and it includes best practices with COVID-19.

Is there a process in place for facilitating employee antibody testing for businesses in Polk County?

Currently, Iowa Department of Public Health is doing antibody testing in conjunction with PRC testing. At this time, antibody testing being done individually to make decisions about isolation or release from isolation is not occurring at this time. Antibody testing is emerging and as well learn more about it, we will expand its utility and how we will use it. Stay tuned, we will provide more information as it becomes available.

The county has guidance on reopening business. Who can we talk to about how this document to be used for our operations. Specifically, it says basketball courts and racquetball courts should be closed. is this a recommendation or a requirement?

We have been sending those specific questions to the State of Iowa. We are happy to do that and we can get back to you about that once we get that answer.

Can the county help business Identify vendors for business to purchase their own test for the workforce since it is unlikely the state will facilitate additional testing for return to work or students coming back to campuses in the fall?

At this time, there are certain lab vendors that our hospital systems have worked with. We are not sure of the vendors that may be available. We can take a look at this through logistics. We would caution everyone about scams. There are a lot people reaching out and claiming they have tests available for organizations to purchase. If you receive one of those emails and want us to look at it, please email us at logistics@polkcountyiowa.gov. We will take a look at it and see what we can do to help. As testing becomes more available, we suggest working through your occupational health contractor or your health system is the safest route for any business to go through in our community.

You had indicated on previous call that state took over contact tracing for Polk. Do we know how many monitored, how many people doing the work of tracing, and where we can get info from the state on this?

Any new cases that were received, notified or reported would be followed by the state since April 24th. If you look at Iowa Department of Public Health’s website and monitor new cases we have, that’s where numbers can be seen. The increases in new cases received reflected on that website would be cases followed by Iowa Department of Public Health. I would contact Iowa Department of Public Health if you want more information about case implementation and contact tracing.

Resilience webinars—are the 2 dates the same material or wk. 2 building on wk.1?

The material will be the same for both webinars. We will continue to push out new topics throughout the summer.

To what extent is contact tracing being completed?  We have had multiple employees with different scenarios stating their spouse or live-in family members have tested positive.  One employee had close contact with a family member not living with him and wasn't contacted by anyone.  Another employee said the daycare her kids go to had a confirmed positive case and she wasn't notified or contacted by anyone.  Some employees still report to work and are turned away at the checkpoints.

Questions about variances in contact tracing, I would encourage you to reach out to Iowa Department of Public Health and get some clarification on the difference between those cases and how they are handled.

In regards to a child care facility, please reach out to our communicable disease team at (515) 286-3890 to share some information and concerns. Our team is happy to look into that issue.

Do health officials think second wave is actually fall or likely summer given reopening too soon?

I wish we knew. We are monitoring the situation and we continue to monitor our numbers daily. I would say one of the concerns we have with a fall second wave is the simultaneous emergence of seasonal influenza on top of COVID-19. If we can give you one practical tip to protect yourself and your family is to get your seasonal flu shot. We will continue to monitor the emergence of a second wave.   


May 26, 2020

Information on Cultivating Resilience and links to register for School Based (Tuesdays) and Workplace (Thursdays) can be found here: https://pchsia.org/resilience

Safeguard Iowa Partnership (515) 868-1795 for questions and concerns about businesses reopening.

How do I access COVID-19 data for Polk County: for example cases and deaths?

You can see Polk County data on the State's website: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/pages/case-counts.

We also post our daily briefing slides Monday, Tuesday and Friday that contains this information. You can find the slides here: https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health-department/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/situation-reports-and-daily-briefings/.

Last week DHS Director Garcia announced testing would be available for all day care workers and children to support reopening of day cares. However, they are not currently being provided at the day care my granddaughters attend, which has closed two of their rooms for fourteen days due to a child in each testing positive. The day care is begging parents to distance as they say they can't afford to stay open if they have to keep closing rooms. It's concerning to hear that testing is available when that is not even the case for a place that has remained open during this crisis. Do you have insight on testing access, tracing procedures, and information sources for providers and parents?

The Department of Human Services is providing guidance for childcare providers. The Iowa Department of Public Health is engaging in case contact and contact tracing for Polk County. Childcare nurse consultants are also available to childcare centers. As we have heard recently, Test Iowa has opened criteria so Test Iowa is available for testing as well. For children and staff of childcare centers, we encourage them to call their healthcare provider for testing. There are a variety of avenues to support childcare centers. The Polk County Health Department is also supporting child care centers and is happy to provide guidance and support by contacting 515 286-3890.

Who do people call if they do not have a medical home?

211 is the best resources for someone who does not have a medical home. They can provide resources based on the individual’s circumstance and concerns.

Is Polk County enforcing any additional requirements that the state is not? A document created by this group on May 6th lists additional actions for reopening, such as basketball courts closed, locker rooms closed, etc. Are these requirements or recommendations? Has this or will this be updated as additional areas are opened, such as pools? https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/d1fc4wa0/brp-05082020.pdf

The document you are referencing is a guidance only document based on best practices nationally.  The Governor's proclamation is the legal restriction.  https://governor.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Public%20Health%20Proclamation%20-%202020.05.13.pdf

 

Given the nonspecific symptoms of COVID-19, do you recommend that persons with general illness not thought to be COVID-19 stay home for a longer period (72hrs instead of 24hr min) as a buffer?

If anyone thinks they may have contracted COVID-19 or has been tested for COVID-19, the guidance we have provided earlier, staying at home for at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms, recovering from symptoms and being fever free for at least 3 days without the use of medicine is important guidance to follow. Anyone who is in question if they have been exposed, these are important guidelines to follow. With more availability of testing, that is another avenue to determine if they have COVID-19 and to follow proper guidance in regards to staying home. It is also important to call your healthcare provider and talk to them about symptoms and guidance they may have for you.

Has PCHD resumed giving routine school age vaccines?

We have resumed our childhood vaccines. You can call and set up an appointment. We offer childhood vaccines for children who are uninsured or underinsured.

Is Polk County still attempting to acquire its own tests and will they offer serology? Doctors office are not yet doing it (mercy) and not sure how this is accomplished.

Polk County is looking to potentially acquiring testing that will be targeted to very vulnerable populations in our community. We are not looking at serology testing. We recommend individuals reach out to their healthcare provider to see if that testing is available.

MercyOne is doing serology tests at Urgent Care and regular healthcare visits. There is not a specific COVID-19 serology clinic.

Can you please repeat the phone number that childcare centers need to call if they are interested in testing?

Communicable Disease team can be reached at (515) 286-3890.

I thought 211 was closed for COVID now as was stated earlier in this discussion, why was it given as an answer to finding a doctor.

211 is a place for resources so 211 can direct you to a medical resource. The 211 medical triage line has been demobilized. The nursing staff will not be there to answer medical questions.

Now is the time for all agencies who get state funding to reach out to the Governor & state legislators and let them know about critical needs. So far, I have heard from Supervisor McCoy with detailed information on Polk Co Health and from the Polk County Housing Trust Fund on emergent housing needs if evictions increase. Now is the time to reach out, before the Legislature reconvenes. Thank you.

Information on Cultivating Resilience and links to register for School Based (Tuesdays) and Workplace (Thursdays) can be found here: https://pchsia.org/resilience

Safeguard Iowa Partnership (515) 868-1795 for questions and concerns about businesses reopening.

How do I access COVID-19 data for Polk County: for example cases and deaths?

You can see Polk County data on the State's website: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/pages/case-counts.

We also post our daily briefing slides Monday, Tuesday and Friday that contains this information. You can find the slides here: https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health-department/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/situation-reports-and-daily-briefings/.

Last week DHS Director Garcia announced testing would be available for all day care workers and children to support reopening of day cares. However, they are not currently being provided at the day care my granddaughters attend, which has closed two of their rooms for fourteen days due to a child in each testing positive. The day care is begging parents to distance as they say they can't afford to stay open if they have to keep closing rooms. It's concerning to hear that testing is available when that is not even the case for a place that has remained open during this crisis. Do you have insight on testing access, tracing procedures, and information sources for providers and parents?

The Department of Human Services is providing guidance for childcare providers. The Iowa Department of Public Health is engaging in case contact and contact tracing for Polk County. Childcare nurse consultants are also available to childcare centers. As we have heard recently, Test Iowa has opened criteria so Test Iowa is available for testing as well. For children and staff of childcare centers, we encourage them to call their healthcare provider for testing. There are a variety of avenues to support childcare centers. The Polk County Health Department is also supporting child care centers and is happy to provide guidance and support by contacting 515 286-3890.

Who do people call if they do not have a medical home?

211 is the best resources for someone who does not have a medical home. They can provide resources based on the individual’s circumstance and concerns.

Is Polk County enforcing any additional requirements that the state is not? A document created by this group on May 6th lists additional actions for reopening, such as basketball courts closed, locker rooms closed, etc. Are these requirements or recommendations? Has this or will this be updated as additional areas are opened, such as pools? https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/d1fc4wa0/brp-05082020.pdf

The document you are referencing is a guidance only document based on best practices nationally.  The Governor's proclamation is the legal restriction.  https://governor.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Public%20Health%20Proclamation%20-%202020.05.13.pdf

 

Given the nonspecific symptoms of COVID-19, do you recommend that persons with general illness not thought to be COVID-19 stay home for a longer period (72hrs instead of 24hr min) as a buffer?

If anyone thinks they may have contracted COVID-19 or has been tested for COVID-19, the guidance we have provided earlier, staying at home for at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms, recovering from symptoms and being fever free for at least 3 days without the use of medicine is important guidance to follow. Anyone who is in question if they have been exposed, these are important guidelines to follow. With more availability of testing, that is another avenue to determine if they have COVID-19 and to follow proper guidance in regards to staying home. It is also important to call your healthcare provider and talk to them about symptoms and guidance they may have for you.

Has PCHD resumed giving routine school age vaccines?

We have resumed our childhood vaccines. You can call and set up an appointment. We offer childhood vaccines for children who are uninsured or underinsured.

Is Polk County still attempting to acquire its own tests and will they offer serology? Doctors office are not yet doing it (mercy) and not sure how this is accomplished.

Polk County is looking to potentially acquiring testing that will be targeted to very vulnerable populations in our community. We are not looking at serology testing. We recommend individuals reach out to their healthcare provider to see if that testing is available.

MercyOne is doing serology tests at Urgent Care and regular healthcare visits. There is not a specific COVID-19 serology clinic.

Can you please repeat the phone number that childcare centers need to call if they are interested in testing?

Communicable Disease team can be reached at (515) 286-3890.

I thought 211 was closed for COVID now as was stated earlier in this discussion, why was it given as an answer to finding a doctor.

211 is a place for resources so 211 can direct you to a medical resource. The 211 medical triage line has been demobilized. The nursing staff will not be there to answer medical questions.

Now is the time for all agencies who get state funding to reach out to the Governor & state legislators and let them know about critical needs. So far, I have heard from Supervisor McCoy with detailed information on Polk Co Health and from the Polk County Housing Trust Fund on emergent housing needs if evictions increase. Now is the time to reach out, before the Legislature reconvenes. Thank you.


June 2, 2020

 

What is the total recovered cases from the 4,324 cases currently?

This information can be found on https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/

For testing reported, is that individuals tested or total tests run? If a person is tested twice, are they counted twice or just once? Just curious for the one out x tested figure.

Total tests run. It could be multiple tests for one single person.

You are gearing down, but due to openings and protests, cases are likely to increase, how quickly are you able to come back up?

We are one email away from a zoom meeting. Most of us are co-located in this building or close by. It is very easy for us to get everyone back together in the EOC virtually if needed.

Are we encouraging/assisting facilities (hospitals, LTC, etc.) to start thinking about how they can use non-disposable PPE--e.g. elastomeric respirators, durable face shields, washable gowns/coveralls?  Are there cleaning/disinfecting guidelines and item recommendations?

We have been following CDC guidance on reuse of PPE and using non-disposable gowns. We continue to share that guidance and support the use of these items within congregate living.

 Do we know what effects the ongoing protests will have on COVID-19 case numbers? What precautions should protestors take to stay safe? Sorry again if this was already talked about.

 Anytime we see people getting together in large numbers and being in close proximity, we have concerns that we could see the number of cases increase. We continue to echo in regards to any group activity, the importance of staying home when sick. We know particularly people want to come together to share their stories and messages and if they are ill, maybe take to social media to prevent the spread of illness.  Wear masks, use hand sanitizer, maintain social distancing whenever possible. All of this is so important anytime anyone is out in groups.  

 Friday's situation report implied some contact tracing being done by Polk Co. again.  Has Polk Co. resumed doing contact tracing for all or just some?

Iowa Department of Public Health continues to do individual contacts and case tracing. Polk County Health Department is working with congregate living in terms on contact tracing, testing and providing support.

 With high school athletics restarting, are there any special steps being taken to provide timely support if + cases/exposure arise?

 There is guidance available for high school athletic and sporting events. We encourage the use of that guidance. We continue to do what we do in terms of identifying positive cases and notifying contacts. All of those processes are in place whether at state or local level and they aid in identifying individuals and reducing spread whether it’s at an athletic event, group event or other activities.

 What is the situation at the Polk County jail, and what is the effect of the influx of people being arrested at protests? Are they at risk of catching the virus at the jail?

Those who have been detained as a part of the protests are quickly processed and released. There is minimal exposure. There are isolation areas in the jail for those who disclose COVID-19 positive status or are tested positive while at the jail.

 What is the current testing situation in Polk?  Is it easy to get upon request (symptoms or no symptoms) or do there continue to be issues with availability?

 As of right now, the clinics and hospitals still have a tight prioritization list of how they are testing people. Test Iowa is still available for asymptomatic people. The situation remains very fluid and will continue to do so for quite a while. What we are hearing from Test Iowa is that people can schedule out 3 days from the day they schedule their appointment. The testing may not be immediate but it should be within 3 days when you try to schedule. If you can’t get a date that works for you, try again and refill out the questionnaire.

 Where is the guidance for sports teams and what to do if some tests positive?

https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/dydi1cer/pchd-athletic-guidance.pdf

Several companies are offering contact tracing for businesses, what are your thoughts?  Are you currently working with any outside agencies to facilitate contact tracing?

The Health Department is not currently working with any outside organizations for contact tracing. Businesses have the opportunity to utilize this service. We recommend to vet these companies and do any appropriate agreements or contracts because we are aware of scams out there.

Can the local emergency management and public health agencies encourage the adoption or mandate of paid sick leave or temporary unemployment benefit policies to make "stay at home if you're sick" possible?

We can encourage it but we cannot mandate it. That is a private business/sector decision. It is also a legislative decision. It is beyond what public health or emergency management can do.

Is there any new advice or updates about safety of swimming pools? 

There is nothing new. The CDC continues to put out guidance so continue to visit their website.

 

What is the total recovered cases from the 4,324 cases currently?

This information can be found on https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/

For testing reported, is that individuals tested or total tests run? If a person is tested twice, are they counted twice or just once? Just curious for the one out x tested figure.

Total tests run. It could be multiple tests for one single person.

You are gearing down, but due to openings and protests, cases are likely to increase, how quickly are you able to come back up?

We are one email away from a zoom meeting. Most of us are co-located in this building or close by. It is very easy for us to get everyone back together in the EOC virtually if needed.

Are we encouraging/assisting facilities (hospitals, LTC, etc.) to start thinking about how they can use non-disposable PPE--e.g. elastomeric respirators, durable face shields, washable gowns/coveralls?  Are there cleaning/disinfecting guidelines and item recommendations?

We have been following CDC guidance on reuse of PPE and using non-disposable gowns. We continue to share that guidance and support the use of these items within congregate living.

 Do we know what effects the ongoing protests will have on COVID-19 case numbers? What precautions should protestors take to stay safe? Sorry again if this was already talked about.

 Anytime we see people getting together in large numbers and being in close proximity, we have concerns that we could see the number of cases increase. We continue to echo in regards to any group activity, the importance of staying home when sick. We know particularly people want to come together to share their stories and messages and if they are ill, maybe take to social media to prevent the spread of illness.  Wear masks, use hand sanitizer, maintain social distancing whenever possible. All of this is so important anytime anyone is out in groups.  

 Friday's situation report implied some contact tracing being done by Polk Co. again.  Has Polk Co. resumed doing contact tracing for all or just some?

Iowa Department of Public Health continues to do individual contacts and case tracing. Polk County Health Department is working with congregate living in terms on contact tracing, testing and providing support.

 With high school athletics restarting, are there any special steps being taken to provide timely support if + cases/exposure arise?

 There is guidance available for high school athletic and sporting events. We encourage the use of that guidance. We continue to do what we do in terms of identifying positive cases and notifying contacts. All of those processes are in place whether at state or local level and they aid in identifying individuals and reducing spread whether it’s at an athletic event, group event or other activities.

 What is the situation at the Polk County jail, and what is the effect of the influx of people being arrested at protests? Are they at risk of catching the virus at the jail?

Those who have been detained as a part of the protests are quickly processed and released. There is minimal exposure. There are isolation areas in the jail for those who disclose COVID-19 positive status or are tested positive while at the jail.

 What is the current testing situation in Polk?  Is it easy to get upon request (symptoms or no symptoms) or do there continue to be issues with availability?

 As of right now, the clinics and hospitals still have a tight prioritization list of how they are testing people. Test Iowa is still available for asymptomatic people. The situation remains very fluid and will continue to do so for quite a while. What we are hearing from Test Iowa is that people can schedule out 3 days from the day they schedule their appointment. The testing may not be immediate but it should be within 3 days when you try to schedule. If you can’t get a date that works for you, try again and refill out the questionnaire.

 Where is the guidance for sports teams and what to do if some tests positive?

https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/dydi1cer/pchd-athletic-guidance.pdf

Several companies are offering contact tracing for businesses, what are your thoughts?  Are you currently working with any outside agencies to facilitate contact tracing?

The Health Department is not currently working with any outside organizations for contact tracing. Businesses have the opportunity to utilize this service. We recommend to vet these companies and do any appropriate agreements or contracts because we are aware of scams out there.

Can the local emergency management and public health agencies encourage the adoption or mandate of paid sick leave or temporary unemployment benefit policies to make "stay at home if you're sick" possible?

We can encourage it but we cannot mandate it. That is a private business/sector decision. It is also a legislative decision. It is beyond what public health or emergency management can do.

Is there any new advice or updates about safety of swimming pools? 

There is nothing new. The CDC continues to put out guidance so continue to visit their website.


June 9, 2020

Are there data show more serious outcomes locally from strokes, heart attacks, etc.?

They are just seeing an uptick in cases or the equity of patients in the EMS field.

What Phase is Polk County in?  How is this determined?  Can you review that process? Referencing the Phases from the CDC determining when we can advance, for example larger group sizes.

Our governor provides that guidance with regards to reopening and group sizes in Iowa.

Recommendations from the CDC for Covid 19 positive individuals that are Asymptomatic is the 10 days from onset & 72 hours symptom free ALONG with 2 Negative test > or = 24 hours apart to ensure individuals do not still carry the virus.  Some local clinics and hospitals are not doing this or providing documentation employees can return to work.  As an employer, how can we ensure that employee is recovered and no longer has a potential to infect other employees?  OSHA also states that employers shall follow CDC guidelines and in return those guidelines are not being met by local care facilities.

The CDC offers two different strategies in regards to when a person can return to activities and work. The test based strategy is one that is offered and that one is suggested to be employed based on conditions in your community with regards to the degree of illness and the availability of testing.

The other strategy is to use the 10/R/3 strategy.

  • Has it been at least 10 days since your symptoms first appeared? AND
  • Have you been without a fever for at least 3 days without the use of a medicine that reduces fevers? AND
  • Have your symptoms gotten better? Has your cough gotten better? Can you taste and smell better? Can you breathe better?

In relation to illness guidelines, how do we help people triage whether a symptom is truly covid or not likely covid?  Examples:  nausea and diarrhea—return 24hrs after resolved, 72hrs after resolved, 10 days since onset + 72hrs resolved?  Or does answer depend on community transmission level, amt of exposure in community, etc. Do we say even 1 symptom counts as possible covid or say it has to be more than 1 or does it depend on symptom (e.g. loss of smell counts but headache is wait and see)? Hard questions to answer but especially given asymptomatic folks, these are the types of questions employers are being asked to answer daily and schools will be in same boat.

If you are ill, the important thing is to self-isolate whether it is COVID-19 or something type of illness. Continue to monitor and watch for symptoms of COVID-19. Most importantly seeking the guidance and counsel of your health care provider. If you do not have one, guidance from public health to make some type of determination about what you are dealing regarding an illness and what types of testing are needed based on your symptoms.

Last day to place supply orders through PCEMA is July 7. The last day to receive is July 9.

Correct. Please watch this video to learn more about supplying PPE for your organization: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9RhsEdUWvE

 

Will the warehouse reaccumulate supplies for future surges/emergencies?

There is a plan in place for a second wave if and when that happens. Our team is starting the process for this.

Are there data show more serious outcomes locally from strokes, heart attacks, etc.?

They are just seeing an uptick in cases or the equity of patients in the EMS field.

What Phase is Polk County in?  How is this determined?  Can you review that process? Referencing the Phases from the CDC determining when we can advance, for example larger group sizes.

Our governor provides that guidance with regards to reopening and group sizes in Iowa.

Recommendations from the CDC for Covid 19 positive individuals that are Asymptomatic is the 10 days from onset & 72 hours symptom free ALONG with 2 Negative test > or = 24 hours apart to ensure individuals do not still carry the virus.  Some local clinics and hospitals are not doing this or providing documentation employees can return to work.  As an employer, how can we ensure that employee is recovered and no longer has a potential to infect other employees?  OSHA also states that employers shall follow CDC guidelines and in return those guidelines are not being met by local care facilities.

The CDC offers two different strategies in regards to when a person can return to activities and work. The test based strategy is one that is offered and that one is suggested to be employed based on conditions in your community with regards to the degree of illness and the availability of testing.

The other strategy is to use the 10/R/3 strategy.

  • Has it been at least 10 days since your symptoms first appeared? AND
  • Have you been without a fever for at least 3 days without the use of a medicine that reduces fevers? AND
  • Have your symptoms gotten better? Has your cough gotten better? Can you taste and smell better? Can you breathe better?

In relation to illness guidelines, how do we help people triage whether a symptom is truly covid or not likely covid?  Examples:  nausea and diarrhea—return 24hrs after resolved, 72hrs after resolved, 10 days since onset + 72hrs resolved?  Or does answer depend on community transmission level, amt of exposure in community, etc. Do we say even 1 symptom counts as possible covid or say it has to be more than 1 or does it depend on symptom (e.g. loss of smell counts but headache is wait and see)? Hard questions to answer but especially given asymptomatic folks, these are the types of questions employers are being asked to answer daily and schools will be in same boat.

If you are ill, the important thing is to self-isolate whether it is COVID-19 or something type of illness. Continue to monitor and watch for symptoms of COVID-19. Most importantly seeking the guidance and counsel of your health care provider. If you do not have one, guidance from public health to make some type of determination about what you are dealing regarding an illness and what types of testing are needed based on your symptoms.

Last day to place supply orders through PCEMA is July 7. The last day to receive is July 9.

Correct. Please watch this video to learn more about supplying PPE for your organization: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9RhsEdUWvE

 

Will the warehouse reaccumulate supplies for future surges/emergencies?

There is a plan in place for a second wave if and when that happens. Our team is starting the process for this.


General COVID-19 Questions and Answers

Am I at risk for COVID-19?

Visit Iowa Department of Public Health's website for the up-to-date COVID-19 numbers. https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

Community spread occurs when individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected.

The Iowa Department of Public Health will update the following chart with numbers of Iowans being monitored and tested for COVID-19 each day, Monday through Friday. Visit their website for COVID-19 numbers: https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

Visit Iowa Department of Public Health's website for the up-to-date COVID-19 numbers. https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

Community spread occurs when individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected.

The Iowa Department of Public Health will update the following chart with numbers of Iowans being monitored and tested for COVID-19 each day, Monday through Friday. Visit their website for COVID-19 numbers: https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus


What is community spread?

Community Spread: Occurs where individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected (e.g., cannot spread the illness to a specific event, like a cruise).

Community Spread: Occurs where individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected (e.g., cannot spread the illness to a specific event, like a cruise).


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to CDC, patients with confirmed COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

Some patients have had other symptoms including muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

According to CDC, patients with confirmed COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

Some patients have had other symptoms including muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.


How long should I stay home if sick?

If you have symptoms of a respiratory disease (these include fever, coughing, muscle aches, sore throat, and headache), you should stay home for at least 10 days, and for 3 days with no fever and improvement of respiratory symptoms—whichever is longer. (Your fever should be gone for 3 days without using fever-reducing medicine.)

For example, if you have a fever and coughing for 4 days, you need to stay home 6 more days with no fever for a total of 10 days. 

If you have symptoms of a respiratory disease (these include fever, coughing, muscle aches, sore throat, and headache), you should stay home for at least 10 days, and for 3 days with no fever and improvement of respiratory symptoms—whichever is longer. (Your fever should be gone for 3 days without using fever-reducing medicine.)

For example, if you have a fever and coughing for 4 days, you need to stay home 6 more days with no fever for a total of 10 days. 


If I have symptoms, when should I see a doctor?

If you have symptoms and can manage those symptoms at home, you don't have to seek health care or be tested for COVID-19. Just stay home while you are sick. If you are older or have underlying medical conditions, it may be helpful to let your health care provider know you are sick. They may have some specific advice for you. Some people with COVID-19 have worsened during the second week of illness. If your symptoms worsen at any point, and you do need to go see a doctor, call 211, talk to the medical line before going in.

If you have symptoms and can manage those symptoms at home, you don't have to seek health care or be tested for COVID-19. Just stay home while you are sick. If you are older or have underlying medical conditions, it may be helpful to let your health care provider know you are sick. They may have some specific advice for you. Some people with COVID-19 have worsened during the second week of illness. If your symptoms worsen at any point, and you do need to go see a doctor, call 211, talk to the medical line before going in.


How can we prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Iowans should do their part to protect their health and the health of others:

  • Individuals 60 years of age and older with underlying conditions should stay at home and avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel to affected areas.
  • Consider personal social distancing measures: avoid large gatherings, limit the number of attendees per gathering.
  • Consider working remotely or online learning when possible.
  • Encourage staff to telework (when feasible), particularly individuals at increased risk of severe illness.
  • Limit non-essential work travel and gatherings.
  • Follow CDC guidance regarding school closures if a school-based case is identified, implement short term suspension for school cleaning and contact tracing, and alter schedules to reduce student mixing. Cancel extracurricular activities as needed.

The CDC, Iowa Department of Public Health and Polk County Health Department continue to monitor the situation in the United States and in Iowa. 

Iowans should do their part to protect their health and the health of others:

  • Individuals 60 years of age and older with underlying conditions should stay at home and avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel to affected areas.
  • Consider personal social distancing measures: avoid large gatherings, limit the number of attendees per gathering.
  • Consider working remotely or online learning when possible.
  • Encourage staff to telework (when feasible), particularly individuals at increased risk of severe illness.
  • Limit non-essential work travel and gatherings.
  • Follow CDC guidance regarding school closures if a school-based case is identified, implement short term suspension for school cleaning and contact tracing, and alter schedules to reduce student mixing. Cancel extracurricular activities as needed.

The CDC, Iowa Department of Public Health and Polk County Health Department continue to monitor the situation in the United States and in Iowa. 


How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The virus is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The virus is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.


Should I be tested for COVID-19?

Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Your healthcare professional will work with state and local public health department according to CDC guidelines for testing to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. 

Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Your healthcare professional will work with state and local public health department according to CDC guidelines for testing to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. 


How can I protect myself and my family from COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the Polk County Health Department always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the Polk County Health Department always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Should I wear a mask to protect myself from COVID-19?

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Cloth face coverings should not be worn by:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Cloth face coverings should not be worn by:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance

Am I at risk for COVID-19 from a package or products shipped from China?

Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.  There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are not very hearty viruses and generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets.

This is an ever evolving health concern. Information is constantly changing. For the most up-to-date information please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at  www.cdc.gov,  Iowa Department of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/ or Polk County Health Department at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.  There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are not very hearty viruses and generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets.

This is an ever evolving health concern. Information is constantly changing. For the most up-to-date information please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at  www.cdc.gov,  Iowa Department of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/ or Polk County Health Department at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.


Why isn’t the Health Department releasing zip code data on positive COVID-19 cases?

Over the past couple of weeks, the Polk County Health Department has had several requests to release positive cases of COVID-19 based on zip code data. There are several reasons why we do not feel this would be beneficial to our community.

  • Iowa law provides that certain information, data and records collected under public health legal authority are confidential and may not be disclosed to the public. The law speaks to population identifiers. The concern is that the specific information about populations could potentially breach confidentiality for individuals.

  • Publishing positive test results by the zip code where someone lives can promote stigma toward the residents of that zip code. Incorrect assumptions can be made about that community that could threaten their health and well-being.

  • Unless it informs decision-making about specific actions to take in a zip code and provides support to a population, it could be more harmful than useful. We never want to put our community in harm’s way by releasing specific data.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Polk County Health Department has had several requests to release positive cases of COVID-19 based on zip code data. There are several reasons why we do not feel this would be beneficial to our community.

  • Iowa law provides that certain information, data and records collected under public health legal authority are confidential and may not be disclosed to the public. The law speaks to population identifiers. The concern is that the specific information about populations could potentially breach confidentiality for individuals.

  • Publishing positive test results by the zip code where someone lives can promote stigma toward the residents of that zip code. Incorrect assumptions can be made about that community that could threaten their health and well-being.

  • Unless it informs decision-making about specific actions to take in a zip code and provides support to a population, it could be more harmful than useful. We never want to put our community in harm’s way by releasing specific data.

If you think you need to get tested for COVID-19 or have been exposed, call your clinic FIRST. DO NOT go to the ER or clinic. You could potentially expose others to COVID-19 or be exposed to COVID-19.