State opens more businesses; all six Dickinson County COVID-19 cases 'recovered'

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Graphic by Seth Boyes

Haircuts are still on hold, but Iowans can now camp, get a tan or resume their regular dental check-ups as Gov. Kim Reynolds continues to roll back COVID-19 restrictions.

A proclamation late Wednesday, May 6, also restored face-to-face private school instruction and allows school boards to start the 2020-21 school year prior to Aug. 23 — as long as the earlier start date is incorporated into the "Return to Learn" plan each district submitted to the Iowa Department of Education.

The governor announced the eased restrictions after meeting with President Donald Trump earlier in the day.

Starting at 5 a.m. Friday, a dentist and dental staff members could resume providing dental services "as long as the dentist has adequate inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE) and access to a reliable supply chain without relying on state or local PPE stockpiles."

Medical spas also may open under the same conditions.

Drive-in movie theaters may reopen starting Friday with proper distancing between vehicles — but many studios have pushed back major movie releases in light of the novel coronavirus global pandemic.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will start accepting camping reservations at 9 a.m. Friday, but the state agency has set some limits at its 68 state parks and four state forests.

"While state parks have seen a great influx of visitors at our parks, it is expected to see the same at the campgrounds," the IDNR said in a statement Wednesday night. "Parks staff will be closely monitoring these areas to avoid gatherings of groups larger than 10. Staff presence throughout the parks and campgrounds will remind and educate visitors to continue physical distancing while enjoying some of Iowa's most beautiful public places."

Campers should prepare for the following guidelines:

• Visitors will not be allowed in the campgrounds, only those occupying the campsites

• Campfires at the individual campsites will be limited to campers occupying that campsite

• Six occupants per campsite, unless immediate family contains more than six

• Some pit latrines are now open in busier day use areas

• All modern restrooms and shower buildings, including water fountains, remain closed

• Communal picnic tables and grills are open for use at your own risk

• Playgrounds, day-use rental lodges and shelter houses will remain closed

• Cabins, yurts and shelter houses will remain closed

• Visitors centers, nature centers and museums within state parks will remain closed

• Beaches remain open, but will be monitored closely

• Some campgrounds may be closed due to construction or maintenance issues, so please check the specific closure information below for each park before planning a camping trip.

"The DNR highly recommends practicing physical distancing so that the parks and campgrounds remain open as a viable option for recreational opportunity," its announcement said. "Campers should assume personal responsibility and abide by the guidelines."

The governor extended other provisions of her of public health disaster emergency until 11:59 p.m. May 27, "unless sooner terminated or extended in writing by me."

IDPH: Local COVID-19 patients have 'recovered'

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Wednesday said all six Dickinson County residents who tested positive with COVID-19 are now listed as "recovered," according to statistics updated daily through the coronavirus.iowa.gov website. The department says 183 tests have been administered in Dickinson County. The Iowa Great Lakes region last reported a new case of COVID-19 on Sunday, April 26.

Reynolds took the first steps in opening the economy back up by allowing stores to operate at 50% capacity starting May 1. Farmers markets and limited restaurant seating was allowed in 77 counties. Statewide numbers continue to climb, however, as outbreaks at meat processing plants and long-term care facilities remain a concern.

As of Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health learned of 539 additional positive cases statewide — 319 of the 539 positives were late-April cases from Iowans who were working at a Nebraska meat processing plant.

The health community in Dickinson County urges residents and guests to maintain habits that have so far limited the number of cases in the region.

"This unprecedented time is not easy," Dr. Zach Borus of the Lakes Regional Healthcare COVID-19 Task Force said. "We want everyone to know that the actions they are taking — staying home except for essential trips to the store or physician and keeping a 6-foot distance from other individuals – are important and make a difference."

Lakes Regional Healthcare credits local businesses, schools, essential service workers, health care providers, coalitions, churches and individuals for doing their part during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a reminder, all residents should:

• Stay home as much as possible, leaving only for essential errands like groceries or medication.

• Stay home completely when even mildly ill (the kind of illness that normally wouldn't prevent you from your everyday activities)

• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.

Summer residents coming to the area from other regions are encouraged to self-isolate for the first two weeks of their return.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever (100.4 or greater) and shortness of breath, according to information from Lakes Regional Healthcare. Residents experiencing any of these symptoms should call Lakes Regional Healthcare’s COVID-19 Hotline at 712-336-6696. A nurse will do an assessment over the phone and provide next steps, which may mean coming into the clinic to be seen by a provider and possibly having a test.

LRH and Dickinson County Public Health continue to offer the following recommendations:

• Stay home. People who are mildly ill are able to recover at home.

• Treat your symptoms as you would any respiratory virus. Drink fluids, rest and treat your cough with over-the-counter medication.

• Separate yourself from others in your home. You can spread the illness, even when you're mildly ill, so to protect others in your household, try to stay away from others as much as possible.

• People who may be at higher risk for getting very sick include older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

"We are learning more about COVID-19 each day," Dr. Andrew Mueting of Lakes Family Practice said. "We want to provide the most accurate information we have to help slow the spread of the virus in our county and protect our most vulnerable residents."

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