Two Iowans tested for novel coronavirus

    The Iowa Department of Public Health has identified two Iowans who recently returned from China and are undergoing testing for the novel coronavirus.

    The two are currently under voluntary home confinement, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

    Since December, 361 people have died and more than 17,000 people have been sickened by novel coronavirus in China, according to the World Health Organization.

    To contain the virus, Chinese authorities have shut down transportation for more than a dozen cities that are home to 50 million people. At least 150 additional cases of the virus have been confirmed in 23 other countries, including 11 cases here in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Testing on the two Iowa individuals is being conducted by the CDC and the results are not expected for several days. The Iowa Department of Public Health said the action is “part of a planned, layered approach that utilizes a variety of actions to protect the public health.”

    The department’s medical director and state epidemiologist, Dr. Caitlin Pedati, said “this has been a fairly rapidly changing situation” and that “there’s much that remains to be learned about this new virus.”

    She said that when the agency was planning to implement recent recommendations from the president’s task force on the novel coronavirus, it was fully anticipated that there would be Iowans who would be identified as needing testing and monitoring.

    “Although we’ve seen cases – 11 so far here in the United States, and it’s possible we could detect more – the overall risk from novel coronavirus here in the United States and here in Iowa continues to remain low,” Pedati said.

    She said that anyone who has traveled to China in the past 14 days and has become sick with fever or respiratory problems should contact their health care provider and let them know they will be coming in to seek medical assistance.

    The CDC encourages people to protect themselves from viruses through frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water, and covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

    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.