COVID-19 spreading rapidly at two state-run care facilities for people with disabilities

By: - October 9, 2020 3:56 pm

An illustration of a coronavirus, created for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Image by Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM)

With COVID-19 spreading rapidly at two state-run facilities for the disabled, 61 residents and workers are now infected, according to public health officials.

In addition, the death of one disabled resident is now being examined to determine whether it was caused by the deadly virus.

The number of infections at western Iowa’s Glenwood Resource Center and its central Iowa sister facility, the Woodward Resource Center, has increased sharply in recent days:

  • At Glenwood, there are now 32 active cases of COVID-19, consisting of 18 workers and 14 residents. The 32 infections is more than three times the 10 active infections that were reported at the home on Sept. 30. In addition to the 32 current cases, 11 workers at the western Iowa home have been infected and already recovered, for a total of 43 infections during the pandemic.
  • At Woodward, the number of active staff infections has increased from 11 to 17 in the past four days, while the number of active resident infections has increased from 8 to 12. In addition to the 29 current cases, 32 workers and 23 residents of the home have been infected and already recovered, for a total of 84 infections during the pandemic.

The two homes are run by the Iowa Department of Human Services. Department spokesman Matt Highland said that while there have been no confirmed COVID-19 deaths at any of Iowa’s six DHS-run facilities, one asymptomatic resident of Glenwood recently died.

“I can confirm we have had a death there,” he said. “It is not yet known whether it was COVID-related.”

State records show that by late July, 85 residents and workers at the six DHS-run care facilities had at one time tested positive for COVID-19. Over the next two weeks, that number grew to 113, an increase of 33% in just 14 days. The cumulative total of infections at the six facilities now stands at 199, with 71 of those individuals not yet recovered.

Earlier this summer, infections grew quickly at the Boys State Training School in Eldora, where students attend classes and reside on campus in cottages. In late July, a total of 23 Eldora students and staffers had tested positive for COVID-19. By mid-August, that number had more than doubled to 50, with students accounting for 26 of the cases on campus.

According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, all of the students have since recovered and there have been no new student infections. As for the Eldora staff, 24 of the 25 infected workers have now recovered.

Here’s a look at the total number of staff and resident infections, to date, for each of the six DHS-run facilities, and an indication of how the numbers have changed since July 28:

Eldora Boys State Training School: 51 cases (up from 23)

Woodward Resource Center: 84 cases (up from 53)

Glenwood Resource Center: 43 cases (up from 5)

Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders: 8 cases (up from 2)

Cherokee Mental Health Institute: 6 cases, all staff (up from 1)

Independence Mental Health Institute: 7 cases, all staff (up from 1)




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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.