FIRST COVID CASE IN BV RECOVERED

Middle-age person reportedly past symptoms

POLICE BUST UP GATHERING, URGE PEOPLE TO STAY HOME

Officials leery of saying much

BY TOM CULLEN

A case of novel coronavirus has been confirmed in a resident of Buena Vista County, according to BV County Public Health Administrator Pam Bogue.

The virus that’s infected more than 368,000 nationwide first hit the state in Johnson County (Iowa City) in mid-March, which the prompted the Iowa Department of Public Health to announce the virus was in the “community spread” status. It took four weeks before the test registered in a BV County resident, aged 41-60. The positive test was announced Monday night.

No further information will be released, according to Public Health Administrator Pam Bogue, who declined to specify when the test was administered or the number of tests that have been authorized. Bogue said in an email last month she doesn’t receive that information, only positive results.

Bogue did not say whether the patient was male or female.

“Due to patient confidentiality, I cannot answer about the number of tests we may or may not have performed,” Buena Vista Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Katie Schwint said in an email March 16. “We work with BV County Health on any reportable numbers.”

Schwint told The Times last month BVRMC is considered a 25-bed critical access hospital. She wasn’t aware of the number of ventilators, which help intensive-care patients breathe.

Spencer Hospital spokeswoman Susan Zulk told The Times last month Spencer has access to 10 ventilators.

STANCHING THE spread of the virus over the coming weeks is paramount to sustain what little bed capacity rural hospitals have, according to Iowa Hospital Association President Kirk Norris.

Norris this weekend told Iowa Watch the state’s hospitals are losing $1 million daily, many of which don’t have more than 70 to 80 days of operating cash on hand. They’re threatened with closure, he says, because of the stress the virus poses to inpatient capacities.

Estimates of the amount of ventilators the state needs during the crisis ranges from 127 to 562; ICU beds range from 150 to 702 and total beds range from 726 to 4,655. State Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati cautioned at a press conference on Thursday models only are as good as available data.

On Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds in her press conference acknowledged this week will be “equally if not more, difficult,” as she announced an additional 78 Iowans tested positive for novel coronavirus. The state’s total stood at 1,048, as of Tuesday morning. She announced further closures to businesses, like libraries, bowling centers and campgrounds, and promised citations to those in gatherings of over 10.

The governor again declined to enact a shelter-in-place order, saying the state’s already achieved the measure like surrounding states have. The Iowa Medical Board urged the governor to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. On Friday, Reynolds balked at the notion.

STORM LAKE POLICE Chief Chris Cole says the order changes little to the department’s approach since Reynolds closed most of public life in recent weeks.

“Really, the promise of citations was already in effect,” Cole said. “What we want to make clear is that gatherings of over 10 are prohibited. Period. Stay home.”

The SLPD isn’t afraid to enforce the measure. On Sunday morning, officers while on call to 701A W. Ninth St. for a domestic disturbance, broke up a gathering in excess of 20 people. Police cited 28-year-old Stephen Ali of Storm Lake and 19-year-old Karla Rodriguez of Denison in connection with the incident.

“A small percentage of the population thinks that the new rules don’t apply to them, and I get it, change like this is hard,” Cole said. “But we need to do these things so we can protect people from this. This is real. It’s scary and we should take it seriously. Stay home, and if you can’t, use social distancing measures to the best extent you can.”

Cole said the governor’s announcement that those in large gatherings are subject to citation was “an act of publicity.”

Articles Section: