Spirit Lake Test Iowa Clinic to remain open through August

Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Health professionals with the Spirit Lake Test Iowa site moved their equipment from the Dickinson County Expo Building to the Lakes Area Ice Arena. Testing at the new site began Monday, and is expected to be available there through August.
Photo by Seth Boyes

County records 4th death related to COVID-19

The state-operated website for coronavirus statistics on Thursday confirmed the death of a fourth Dickinson County resident related to COVID-19.

"Unfortunately the Iowa Department of Public Health doesn't allow us to release the date of death and no longer are releasing the gender," Dickinson County Public Health Coordinator Katy Burke said. "The age range of the last Dickinson County resident who passed away with COVID-19 was 61-80 years."

Dickinson County's first two deaths happened in mid-June and involved men over the age of 80, according to Lakes Regional Healthcare officials. The third person, a 61- to 80-year-old male, passed away in early July while being cared for in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Lakes Regional Healthcare has two people who are currently inpatients as a result of COVID-19. That leaves the Spirit Lake hospital with three ICU beds and 10 Medical/Surgical unit beds available for COVID-19 care.

Altogether, 10 patients have been treated at Lakes Regional Healthcare since the virus emerged in March.

Test Iowa has been available in Spirit Lake since Monday, June 22, and has allowed any Iowa resident to receive a COVID-19 test at no cost, regardless of symptoms or potential exposure to the virus. The clinic's original location was at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds. Testing moved July 6 to the Lakes Ice Arena at 3800 Sunner Avenue.

"We are pleased with it," Burke said. "We've been able to test many people relatively quickly and easily through the Test Iowa Clinic."

Hours are changing at the Spirit Lake drive-thru test site, according to the public health coordinator. Hours will remain 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Hours Tuesday and Thursday will now be 8 a.m. to noon.

"We are evaluating our ability to keep the clinic open on a monthly basis depending upon testing volume," Burke said. "It would be our hope to keep the clinic/program available through the start of the school year in support of schools reopening. We will continue to evaluate the community need and our ability to staff the clinic longer term. We do know that the clinic will need to be moved by September as hockey will be starting back up."

Jennifer Gustafson, LRH's Vice President of Marketing and Retail Services on Tuesday confirmed the drive-thru clinic will stay open for at least another month, "and we hope a little after that, although that will be determined at the end of August."

About 136 people go to the Test Iowa Clinic each day, according to Burke. She said Mondays have the highest volume, with an average of 247 people on that day of the week.

Burke was concerned about a spike in positive cases after the biggest holiday weekend in the Iowa Great Lakes.

"The number of positive cases after the July 4 weekend weren't where we expected them to be," she said. "Quite honestly, we expected them to spike up again, but they haven't. We're happy to see they've stayed relatively low."

In order to get a COVID-19 test through the Test Iowa clinic, the governor and local health officials encourage Iowans to:

1.Complete the online assessment at testiowa.com.

2.Participants will receive an email from TestIowa.com that includes a bar code at the conclusion of the online assessment. Iowans should print the bar code or take a screenshot of it.

3.No appointment is needed. Please wear a mask, bring the bar code and have personal identification, such as a drivers license. Be aware that healthcare staff will be dressed in appropriate personal protective equipment including a gown, gloves, mask, and face shield. This is for your protection as well as their own.

Test results will be emailed to the participant within 48 to 72 hours. The results are also available through Test Iowa's "Patient Portal." Participants should enter their personal identifier/bar code number to check their results. If the coronavirus test results are positive, the patient would receive further instructions about self-quarantine and any additional medical attention.

Burke said Dickinson County Public Health has received a lot of questions about antibody testing and how to interpret the results.

"To be clear, the public reason for antibody testing is the same reason there is broader testing for the active virus, which is surveillance," she said. "At this time, there is no clear assurance that because someone tests positive for antibodies that it provides them with any level of protection from becoming reinfected. Assuming there is some protection, there is no clear evidence for how long it provides that protection. We get concerned that people get tested for the antibody and assume that they are free to do what they want. The evidence is not available to support that."

The Iowa Department of Public Health lists 359 Dickinson County residents who tested positive for the coronavirus and 245 residents who have recovered as of Tuesday night.

Lakes Regional Healthcare officials continue to urge residents and visitors to practice safe social distancing and wear face masks. If an individual is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, muscle aches, cough, headache, diarrhea, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell they should still be seen in person by a health professional.

Lakes Regional Healthcare's Respiratory Clinic can be reached at 712-336-6696 for guidance on whether it is best to receive a test at the respiratory clinic or at the Test Iowa site.

"Our expectation is that if you are having symptoms that you still call the respiratory clinic because we want to get you taken care of and get you evaluated," Dr. Zach Borus, a Lakes Regional Healthcare COVID-19 response team member, said at the start of July. "Sometimes the illness can be more significant than it feels initially. So we want to get you checked out."

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