South Central Calhoun High School in Lake City, along with SCC Middle School and SCC Elementary in Rockwell City, closed their doors this past Friday due to precautions in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Due to the community spread of COVID-19, local hospitals and care centers limited or suspended visitations until further notice. [Tyler Anderson/The Graphic-Advocate]
Tyler Anderson
The Graphic-Advocate Editor

Local facilities, schools take precautions in wake of COVID-19 coronavirus

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 coronavirus has made its presence known throughout the state of Iowa, the United States and throughout the globe.

Over the last week, COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2), a strain of novel coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans, has caused numerous closures, panic buying and the cancellation or postponement of a multitude of large public gatherings and events.

As of press time, there were 22 positive cases in Iowa, with the nearest case reported in Carroll County. This past Saturday, Gov. Kim Reynolds had issued a statement that Iowa now has “community spread” within the state.

Despite the positive cases, many more tests for COVID-19 within the state have come back negative, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

COVID-19 has caused area hospitals, local facilities and the South Central Calhoun Community School District to take precautionary measures.

This past Friday, the SCC CSD closed its doors of three of its buildings and cancelled all school-sponsored events this past weekend, despite no confirmed cases within the district. This included the boys’ track & field team’s indoor meet in Humboldt, the Coffeehouse Concert, State Individual Speech and the SCC FFA’s Pancake Breakfast.

State Individual Speech, which was previously slated for this past Saturday at Kuemper Catholic High School in Carroll, had shifted to a mini-contest in Manson before SCC decided to not participate.

According to SCC Superintendent Jeff Kruse, an individual who had met the requirements of COVID-19 had visited the district. On Sunday, the district announced that school would resume on Monday and would resume practices and board meetings.

However, public activities and interscholastic events are cancelled until further notice. This included awards ceremonies, concerts, track meets and AAU-related practices and events. It was also announced that the weight complex at SCC Middle School would be closed until further notice.

No more than four hours later, the district closed its doors. This was in response to Gov. Reynolds’ recommendation to close down Iowa schools for a period of four weeks.

Gov. Reynolds also held a press conference on developments related to COVID-19 this past Monday in Des Moines.

Stewart Memorial Community Hospital has limited visitors to two adults per patient at any one time, and visitors under 18 years of age may visit if they are an immediate family member or are considered essential to the patient’s well being.

“Our main concern is to protect patients and staff from the spread of communicable diseases,” said Cindy Carstens, SMCH CEO. “We are seeing high rates of influenza and are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. The best defense is thorough hand-washing and limiting social interaction.”

St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll is recommending that only healthy adult individuals visit patients in the hospital or residents in the nursing home.

“St. Anthony has been proactively preparing for the likelihood of a positive COVID-19 test in Iowa,” said Ed Smith, President and CEO of St. Anthony. “Now that the first presumptive cases have been identified, it continues to be important to practice safe habits like frequent hand washing, staying home when ill and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue.”

Opportunity Living also took measures to protect its clients, suspending all community outings, closing the Activity Center to the community until further notice and limiting visitors to the homes. Opportunity Living will re-evaluate and monitor the situation on a daily basis.

“We realize the news, information and other items that surround this topic are changing daily and can be overwhelming to determine what is factual,” said Shannon Mahannah, CEO of Opportunity Living. “We will be following the Iowa Department of Public Health and Office of Epidemiologist guidelines. We pray this passes quickly, so we can get back to our normal routine.”

Shady Oaks Care Center of Lake City, Sunnyview Independent Living in Rockwell City and Accura HealthCare of Pomeroy has also closed all non-medical visits, for the health and safety of their residents.

Iowa Central Community College temporarily moved its classes to remote delivery, beginning on March 25. Students will not have face-to-face classes on March 23 and March 24, and those students who are traveling home for spring break are encouraged to stay home to help increase social distancing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus, as it is currently thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. These measures for COVID-19 are not unlike the precautions needed for the likes of influenza.

The CDC has also listed steps to protect yourself from COVID-19.

1. Clean your hands often. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after having been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

2. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Put distance between yourself and other people if the virus is spreading in your community.

3. Take steps to avoid others. Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.

4. Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash, and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

5. Wear a facemask if you are sick. If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people (sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask).

6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them by using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

7. Stay at home when sick until your symptoms are gone.

Many institutions have recommended the act of social distancing, which includes limiting large gatherings, closing buildings and cancelling events.

According to the IDPH, those most at risk of the virus are older adults, and individuals with underlying health concerns. The American Medical Association reports that 80 percent of cases are mild, causing cold or flu-like symptoms.


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