Iowa confirms first three coronavirus cases

Gov. Kim Reynolds confirms Iowa's first three cases of coronavirus in the current global outbreak. Three Johnson County adults were on a cruise in Egypt and now are at home recovering. None were hospitalized. (Photo courtesy of governor's office)

Three adults from Johnson County have been confirmed to have coronavirus after going on a cruise in Egypt, Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a news conference Sunday  evening.

These are Iowa’s first confirmed cases of coronavirus since the current global outbreak.

Eight more Iowans are currently being tested. The results of those tests are expected Monday, state epidemiologist Caitlin Pedati said. Twenty-six previous tests have been negative.

The governor wasn’t unable to say whether other Iowans were on the same Egypt cruise that resulted in the three positive tests. Gerd Clabaugh, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said state officials expect the Johnson County cases to be part of an Iowa outbreak of undetermined size. “We do expect that more cases will be identified in the coming days and weeks,” Clabaugh said.

Reynolds has fully activated the state command center. The Iowa National Guard is prepared to help respond if necessary.

The cases from the Egypt cruise were ruled “presumptive positive” after initial analysis. None of the Iowans were hospitalized. One was between ages 41 and 60, and two were between 61 and 80. State officials would not provide any other details on the patients.

Reynolds said in addition to fully activating the command center, she and her state colleagues are working with other states on best-response tactics, and participating in the federal task force led by Vice President Mike Pence.

Iowa has nearly 500 coronavirus test kits available, health officials said.

So far no quarantine has been ordered beyond isolating the three residents.

Pedati encouraged Iowans to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds at frequent intervals. They also should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, she said. Sick people should stay home from work and school, she added.

Reynolds said the state will issue updates on coronavirus as more information is available.

For more information about coronavirus, Iowans can visit https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus.  In addition, a
24-hour hotline has been established for Iowans with questions, and can be reached by dialing 2-1-1.