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Iowa confirms 3 cases of coronavirus

DES MOINES (KTIV) -- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced the state has confirmed three cases of coronavirus.

Gov. Reynolds made the announcement at a news conference Sunday night.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the individuals are from Johnson County in eastern Iowa. Health officials say one is middle-age, between 41-60 years-old, and two are older adults, between 61-80 years-old.

The IDPH says two of the individuals had underlying health conditions while one did not. None required hospitalization and are recovering at home in isolation. 

"All three individuals were part of a cruise in Egypt,” said IDPH Medical Director and State Epidemiologist, Dr. Caitlin Pedati. “IDPH is working with local public health to assess potential exposures to others. These cases are an important reminder that all Iowans need to help prevent the spread of illness by washing hands frequently, staying home when ill, and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue.”

The announcement came as Nebraska confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Friday.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was first linked to an outbreak in Wuhan, China, but cases have subsequently been identified in several countries, including the U.S. As of Sunday afternoon the U.S. has had 19 confirmed deaths due to coronavirus and over 400 cases.

These are the first coronavirus cases identified in the state of Iowa. Currently, there are still eight people in Iowa who are awaiting their test results for coronavirus.

Iowa officials say no additional or special precautions are recommended for Iowans beyond the simple daily precautions to combat the flu.

“The state of Iowa has been coordinating plans across state agencies, including a partial activation of the State Emergency Operations Center to protect the health of Iowans and assess our operational needs. While these are the first cases, it may not be the last and it’s why Iowans must continue to practice safe habits," said Gov. Reynolds.

Health officials say the virus spreads by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu and other respiratory diseases spread, or when people touch surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Health officials say steps people can take to avoid getting sick include:

  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your sleeve, and then throwing the tissue in the trash.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth ‑ with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you have cold or flu-like symptoms, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

To learn more about the coronavirus, click here to visit KTIV's "Coronavirus Information Page."

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Dean Welte

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