The Dubuque County supervisors have issued a notice detailing ways to stay safe amid a growing outbreak of a respiratory virus.
The statement urges diligent hand-washing and adhering to the practice of “social distancing” to slow the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.
Though no cases yet have been confirmed in Dubuque County, the release from county officials encourages people to make “responsible, personal decisions” to stay as safe as possible.
“We’re encouraging all Dubuque County residents, especially our senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions, to think carefully about attending events and large gatherings,” said Dave Baker, chairman of the Dubuque County supervisors, in the release.
Upon discovery of the existence of substantial community spread of COVID-19 in the state, Gov. Kim Reynolds is recommending that Iowa schools close for four weeks.
“Based on new information from the Iowa Department of Public Health, now is the time to move to the next level of response,” Gov. Reynolds stated. “I am now recommending that all Iowa schools close for a period of four weeks to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
The Senate and House have agreed to waive the requirement for Iowa schools to reschedule days canceled following Reynolds’ recommendation, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Any classes previously scheduled from March 16 to April 12, 2020 will not be required to be rescheduled.
“This decision will provide Iowa school districts with the certainty that they need to make decisions locally and move ahead this school year,” said Speaker Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford).
“In this time of uncertainty, the legislature is working to deliver some certainty for Iowans,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. “One of the most common questions our members receive is about rescheduling canceled school days. Now, Iowa schools and families can have some certainty regarding these four weeks of the school calendar.”
In a release following Reynolds’ statement, clarifications were provided by Iowa’s high school Unified Activities partners — spring activities of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the Iowa High School Music Association and the Iowa High School Speech Association — will be prohibited through the state-recommended school closure.
This prohibits any in-person contact between coaches/administrators and students/student-athletes for the duration of this period.
Leaders of institutions and organizers of events should begin to act on their contingency plans related to large gatherings, including church services. Iowans should not hold or attend large gatherings of more than 10 people, and consider making adjustments for smaller gatherings with high-risk groups.
Local health departments urge the following actions to minimize risk:
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you use hand sanitizer, make sure it is at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Avoid close contact — about six feet — with people who are sick or experiencing respiratory symptoms.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your mouth with your upper arm or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
• Restrict where and when you gather with others.
Message from Archbishop Michael Jackels
Jackels, issued the following message March 16: “After consultation and considerable prayer, it has been decided — out of an abundance of caution and with devotion to the common good — to take steps aimed at slowing down the spread of the coronavirus, to flatten the curve, as they say, so as not to overburden the healthcare system.”
Beginning March 19:
• All public celebrations of Holy Mass are canceled. All Catholics in the Archdiocese of Dubuque are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
• The Chrism Mass will be celebrated, but with only the liturgical ministers present. The oils will be blessed, bottled, and distributed in some way to the parishes.
• During this time, the Archbishop will live stream a celebration of Holy Mass each Sunday, as well as the Chrism Mass (and the Triduum, if the situation has not changed by then), and will lead the Rosary each week on Thursday. Visit www.DBQArch.org for more information about these live-streamed events.
• The existing schedule for Confirmation is canceled (the Archbishop’s office will contact the parishes to reschedule).
• Funerals, weddings and baptisms may be held, but limited to the immediate family, or at least no more than 50 people present, according to the current CDC guidelines.
• Communal penance services should not be held. The present circumstances do not constitute the grave necessity required for use of general absolution. Private, one-on-one confession can be scheduled by appointment.
• All archdiocesan-sponsored events where 50-plus people are gathered are canceled.
Cascade senior care centers restrict access
First and foremost, there have been no reported cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at either facility, and the staffs at River Bend Retirement Community and Shady Rest Care Center want to help keep it that way.
With the health of all their residents in mind, both businesses recently released statements announcing they were restricting activities and visits originating from outside their doors.
“With the safety of our residents being our top priority, River Bend will be canceling all outside activities from coming into our facility until further notice,” the River Bend release stated. “This includes Mass, worship and prayer with Cornerstone and Presbyterian churches, 55-and-older luncheons, special music, etc.” According to the information, this will cause changes to River Bend’s regularly scheduled activities.
The public will be kept informed as to when the restrictions will be lifted. Call 852-5001 with any questions or concerns.
In addition to the visitation restrictions, River Bend issued the following guidelines:
• Do not visit if you are experiencing respiratory symptoms of a cough, a fever of 100.4 or greater, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, vomiting or diarrhea.
• Do not visit until after you are no longer experiencing any of the above for a minimum of 48 hours.
• Do not visit residents or staff if you have traveled to an affected region for COVID-19.
• Do not visit if you have been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.
River Bend will continue working with the Iowa Department of Public Health and follow their recommendations.
The message was similar from Shady Rest. “We love our residents and staff. It is our first priority to keep them healthy. At this time, Shady Rest is limiting our visitors until further notice. We understand and appreciate your visits, but we are taking all precautions to avoid COVID-19 in our facility.”
Members of the public are asked not to visit if they are:
• Under the age of 18.
• Are experiencing coughing, fever, or shortness of breath.
• Have traveled outside the U.S. or states in which they have positive cases of COVID-19.
Citizens who choose to visit are asked to check in with the business office or nurse’s station, wash their hands upon entering and exiting, and wear a mask for the duration of their visit.
“We deeply encourage phone calls and upon request will set up virtual communication with your loved one.”
Direct questions or concerns to Tracy Long at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 852-3277.
List of events that have been postponed or canceled over COVID-19 concerns:
• Iowa Democratic Party county conventions
• Special Olympics Iowa training and activities
• United States Trampoline & Tumbling Association (USTA) meets
• Cascade Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, March 18
• Cascade FFA Banquet, March 19
• Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging senior center meal sites and office locations
• ACT testing scheduled for April 4 is rescheduled to June 13
Editor’s Note: The list of cancellations and closures represents the information we had at the time of writing. As it is a fluid situation, new ones will continue to arise.