Five more from Egyptian cruise test positive for virus

Dr. Caitli Pedati, state medical director


DES MOINES – According to officials from the Iowa Department of Public Health, five more elderly Iowans have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the rapid-moving corona virus, bringing the total in Iowa to 13.

According to an IDPH release Tuesday evening, testing at Iowa’s State Hygienic Laboratory has indicated five additional presumptive positive cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iowa residents, a total of 13 presumptive positive cases. Fourteen additional tests were negative. 

The five new cases are all older adults (61 to 80 years) from Johnson County who were on the same Egyptian cruise as seven other presumptive positive cases. All are in self isolation and recovering at home.  

A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa provided by IDPH can be found here. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those most at risk of the virus are older adults, and individuals with underlying health conditions.

Dr. Caitlyn Pedati, the state’s medical director and epidemiologist, held a webinar Tuesday morning, but stuck the talking points of covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands, and staying home if sick.

As of Tuesday morning, the state had eight presumptive positives, seven of which were on the Egyptian cruise and one other was a person returning from California who had contact with an ill person there.

Pedati said the state originally has about 500 tests at the state hygenic lab less the tests already done. But she said the state has close communications with regional and federal partners to obtain more tests if the need arises.

“We continue to provide tests after consultation with clinical providers and with the public health departments,” Pedati said earlier Tuesday.

Experts have indicated the virus is spread via droplets that enter the nose and mouth from contact or close proximity with infected individuals. But Pedati stopped short of saying masks were a good defense.

“When we look over all the ways we can spread it, in general, what’s more effective is covering coughs, good handwashing and staying home when your sick,” she said. “The last part is most important. The fewer opportunities we give this virus to spread the better off we are.”

She said the state is anticipating that about 80% of those affected will have a mild illness, while 15 to 20% of older adults and those with underlying conditions will be more severely effected.

She also said that 22 Iowans on the Grand Princess Cruise line that docked in California are also being monitored.

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