State lab doubles coronavirus testing capacity

A sign Monday morning tells the tale as schools across Iowa, including Fort Madison, Central Lee and Holy Trinity Catholic cancelled classes for four weeks per a recommendation from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Local calendars in tatters as groups issue mass cancellations

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – Gov. Kim Reynolds indicated Monday afternoon that the state Hygenic Lab will add a shift to double the number of tests conducted each day from 54 to 108.

Reynolds, conducting the almost daily press conferences, from the State Emergency Operation Center, and held a meeting with state directors this morning on what plans are being implemented.

She also met with state health organizations to determine readiness to deal with the expanding spread of the virus. The state currently has a 23 total positive cases to date, but with the expanding testing, numbers are expected to increase.

“Now is a critical time when we can mitigate and slow the spread of the virus in our state,” she said.

“But it takes all of us working together and to do the right things to make that happen. So I just urge all of you to follow the CDC guidelines and preventative measures to protect your health as well as the health of others.”

She said Iowa residents should consider staying home as much as possible especially if you are in vulnerable populations with underlying conditions. She also said avoid traveling, especially cruises.

Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said he’s closed the Lee County Correctional Center to any additional public meetings and is having all visitors screened for temperature by jail handlers prior to allowing entry to the facility.

“I have to make sure that my staff, the jail staff and the inmates are protected from this virus,” Weber said Monday.

“Therefore any visitor will have to be screened outside the building before being allowed entry.”

He also said the sheriff’s department is going to limit its exposure, but will continue to maintain the safety of the county.

“If we can handle something over the phone, we’re going to be doing that. If something can be handled by phone or digitally, we’ll do that as well.”

The Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday has been moved to the North Lee County Office building at the same 9 a.m. start time.

Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld said the city is taking a common sense, day-to-day approach, in dealing with the spread of the coronavirus.

“The City remains focused on the continuity of critical operations: the police and fire departments, providing clean water, sewer services and trash collection” he said.

“City Hall remains open, but we are suggesting the public limit trips for only essential reasons.”

Utility bills can be paid online, over the phone, by using the US postal service or the drop box at City Hall.

“As a community, we must move on with day to day life. We have city functions to perform. We have jobs, businesses and families to maintain,” he said. “But we must all work together as a community to take preventive steps as identified by the CDC.”

Fort Madison Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater said following Monday’s regular school board meeting that no additional decisions have been made regarding school schedules, meals. etc.

“We’re working on it,” she said. “As soon as we know anything we’ll let you know.”

Other Fort Madison/Lee County event changes.

Other changes, in addition to all schools and sports activities for all area schools being cancelled for the next 14 days, have been reported to Pen City Current.
• United Way of the Great River Region’s Spaghetti Dinner scheduled for March 23 has been cancelled. Ticket holders are asked to hold onto those as the event will be rescheduled when prudent to the health and safety of everyone.
• U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack has closed all his physical offices including Davenport, Iowa City and Washington D.C. effective March 17, including all local representative office hours.
• Fort Madison Partners has cancelled it’s Legislative Luncheon planned for Friday at River Rocks Bar and Grill.
• Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce is offering the following suggestions for the continuation of retail business in Fort Madison.
– order take-out or delivery – many of our members are offering curbside pickup and delivery during this time
– visit your favorite retailers/service providers during off hours with less crowds
– support local business online or via social media
– purchase gift cards from businesses you frequent to use later in the year
• FMAAA has rescheduled Expressions Art Auction to June 6th at Quality Inn in Ft. Madison
• HTC’s Blue & Silver Celebration originally planned for Saturday, March 21 has been cancelled.
• Fort Madison’s Kiwanis meetings have been cancelled while school is out. The Kiwanis have also cancelled this year’s Carnation Sale Fundraiser.
• Great River Medical Center has implemented visiting restrictions that will be announced Wednesday. The system has also changed processes for QuickCare. Patients should call 319-768-4320 to request an appoint, check in on arrival and then wait in their vehicles until a room is available. Patients without vehicles will be allowed inside while wearing a mask. The patient and only one person may be in an exam room, unless the parent has more than one child. Most public events scheduled by the GRHS have been cancelled through April 30.
• All Iowa DOT centers are booking appointments online or by phone prior to arriving at the centers. The number to call is 515-244-8725s

6 thoughts on “State lab doubles coronavirus testing capacity

  1. Ive done some research and found this.
    Dr. Ralph baric of UNC has been working with china, in wuhan to be exact, with the coronavirus for nealry 20 years.kinda odd but now he and his crew are working on vaccine
    its called “remdesivir” and looks very promising.very smart people at work on this.
    so everybody stop panicking.stick to facts and people who speak them.do not listen to anything on fakebook or from uninformed ignorants ranting against our president/government.
    Be smart.be safe.

    1. 2 weeks ago he was referring to the fear mongering causing panic by democrats.
      2 months ago he shut travel from china back in january and CNN and other anti Americans called him racist for doing it.
      he must not have thought it was a hoax 2 months ago when he started ways to protect all of us Americans.not just the white male Americans either,ALL Americans.

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