BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY - Following Monday's live televised address to the state by Gov. Kim Reynolds on the recent surge of the coronavirus, the Lee County Board of Health issued new strongly worded directives to Lee County residents.
The Board of Health met Tuesday morning and went a step further in recommending that people stay away from any gatherings where people may not be masked.
The directive tells residents to wear an appropriate face covering every time they leave their home, and when they might be within 6 feet of anyone outside their household.
"The purposes of your face covering is to protect others and the purposed of their face covering is to protect you," the directive read.
"If you find yourself in a place where other people are not wearing face coverings appropriately, you are at great risk. You should consider leaving or avoiding that place altogether."
Michele Ross, administrator at LCHD said the intent of that language is to encourage people to avoid putting themselves in high risk situations.
"If you go somewhere and people are gathering and not socially distancing or not wearing face coverings, you are putting yourself in a high risk situation for potential exposure to the virus since we do have substantial community spread," Ross said.
As with any mask recommendations, the exceptions are for children less than 2 years of age, or those with legitimate medical conditions that would preclude them from wearing a face covering.
"However, it is anticipated that the majority of people in the community can wear a face covering and 100% usage in public is expected to get the maximum benefit from this measure," the release indicated.
"During this pandemic, Lee County Board of Health asks each citizen of Lee County to immediately comply with these recommended directives to slow the transmission of the virus."
Ross said the directive is to let residents know how serious the spread is right now.
"This is a position statement from our Board of Health that was adopted this morning with the intent that people understand how serious of the public health crisis we are in," Ross said this morning.
"These are public health directives the Board feels strongly about and recommends to our county residents and visitors."
The new directive also asks residents to limit the number of interactions with people from outside the household on a regular basis, avoiding all large gatherings of people, staying home when ill, and consider being tested if you are sick or have been exposed, and follow all advice given from health care professionals.
The directive also reiterated regularly promoted safety measures including washing hands frequently with warm water and soap, usage of hand sanitizer when necessary, and regular cleaning and disinfecting of contact surfaces.
The board met in a called meeting that wasn't previously scheduled due to COVID-19 surge underway in the county. As of Tuesday morning, the county has seen 1,685 positive cases and has 17% positivity rating overall, with a 21.9% 14-day positivity rating.
Of the 1,510 Iowans currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,097 have COVID-19 as the primary diagnosis, the remainder were hospitalized for different reasons but tested positive for the virus.
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