DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference Sunday evening to announce that three people in Johnson County have tested positive for the coronavirus, COVID-19. They are the first cases confirmed in Iowa since the outbreak of the illness in late 2019.
“I want to ensure Iowans that we are confident that we are prepared, that we take the situation seriously and will manage it responsibly,” Reynolds said.
COVID-19 was first linked to an outbreak in Wuhan, China, but cases have subsequently been identified in several countries, including the U.S.
The governor was joined at the 6 p.m. conference by Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Gerd Clabaugh, State Medical Director and Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director V. Joyce Flinn, Iowa National Guard Adjutant Gen. Ben Corell and others for the 25-minute event.
Clabaugh said the three Johnson County victims returned to Iowa March 3 from a tour of Egypt on a cruise ship and returned to their homes in the community. He said 26 other passengers from the same ship have tested negative for the virus and eight tests are pending, and results are expected Monday.
Clabaugh said the IDPH will take all necessary actions “to mitigate the spread” of the COVID-19 virus in Iowa and “will continue to share messaging” with Iowans.
“We expect more cases will be identified in the coming days and weeks,” he said.
Corell said the Iowa National Guard is “trained and prepared for all hazardous response” and is “capable of scaling our response efforts as needs on the ground change.”
Pedati said one of the Johnson County victims is in the age range of 41-60 and two are in the range of 61-80.
She repeatedly encouraged all Iowans to take the recommended precautions to prevent the spread of the virus:
- to wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20-30 second
- to cover your coughs and sneezes
- to stay home from work if you feel unwell
Pedati said anyone who suspects they have contracted the coronavirus should call ahead to their doctor or health care provider to make arrangements for treatment.
Reynolds said she plans to next update the public at a Tuesday morning conference. She said all Iowans with questions of any kind should call the 24-hour call center by dialing 2-1-1 or visit the IDPH website.
ThePerryNews.com will update this story as information becomes available.