6th Dickinson County resident confirmed with COVID-19

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Dickinson County health officials said the last four of Dickinson County's six cases of COVID-19 are connected with the same workplace: the JBS pork plant in Worthington, Minnesota.

The plant is located in Nobles County, where 78 new cases were reported Tuesday by Minnesota officials. The outbreak caused company officials to shut down operations.

Positive test results remain sparse — for now — in Dickinson County:

• The county's first case was identified March 26 involving a man between the ages of 61 and 80.

• The second case was identified Sunday April 19, according to Lakes Regional Healthcare President and CEO Jason Harrington. The patient was an adult male between the ages of 18-40 who was working at the expansion and remodeling project on the Lakes Regional Healthcare campus in Spirit Lake.

• The third Dickinson County case was identified locally on Monday, April 20. That out-of-county test involved the Minnesota food processing plant and a Dickinson County male between the ages of 18-40.

• Lakes Regional Healthcare on Friday confirmed a fourth and fifth case of COVID-19 among Dickinson County residents from the JBS pork plant.

The county's fourth case was diagnosed Wednesday, April 22, and Lakes Regional Healthcare was notified Thursday, April 23, about the male patient between the ages of 60-80. The LRH staff learned Friday morning April 24, about a fifth Dickinson County case — a female, also age 60-80.

• The six local case was identified Sunday evening, according to LRH officials. She also was a female age 60-80 who lives in the county and had ties to the JBS pork plant.

As of Tuesday the Iowa Department of Public Health learned of:

• 508 additional positive cases statewide Wednesday for a total of 6,376,

• an additional 1,165 negative tests for a total of 33,447 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.

• an additional nine deaths; 304 patients are currently hospitalized and 2,164 Iowans have recovered.

LRH awaits next "Test Iowa" step

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday, April 21, announced a significant expansion of COVID-19 testing capacity. The "Test Iowa" initiative is a state partnership with Nomi Health and DOMO.

"Iowa is now the second state in the nation to deploy this ambitious initiative, and starting (April 21) I am encouraging Iowans to go to testIowa.com to complete their own health assessment," she said. "This type of information will help Iowans assess eligibility for testing and further inform the state's response to COVID-19."

Nomi Health and DOMO partnered with the state of Utah on a similar effort. Test Iowa's online assessment was developed with the Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowans are asked about existing symptoms and occupational considerations. The information is then used to advise Iowans about whether or not they should get a COVID-19 test. Residents receive instructions on how to get tested.

"At this point we don't expect Governor Reynolds' testiowa.com program to impact our work or residents in Dickinson County that much," Harrington said. "The governor's program is an attempt to expand testing in Iowa. It encourages you to go to www.testiowa.com, register and answer questions to determine whether you would be eligible for COVID-19 testing or not."

In theory, Dickinson County residents could then go to one of the "drive-thru testing" locations that are being established, according to Harrington.

"Unfortunately, there is not a lot of reliable information out about it yet since it is new," he said. "What we do know is that there is currently only one 'drive-thru testing' site and that is in Des Moines." The governor planned a second testing site at the Crossroads Mall in Waterloo for the upcoming weekend. Reynolds on Tuesday said a third testing site could be rolled out in the Sioux City area late in the week or early next week.

"It's easy for people to assume that if they go to the site and are identified as meeting the criteria to be tested that they can go to any hospital or clinic and just be tested," Harrington said.

That isn't the case, for now, according to the LRH CEO.

"You would have to go to one of the drive-thru testing sites and, at this moment, there is only one site in the state," he said, when the plan was first announced. "Traveling to Des Moines from outlying areas would then go against the guidance for people to stay at home."

Harrington said Lakes Regional Healthcare supports the state's work to expand testing but, until a site is established closer to the Lakes Area or the amount of testing medium is increased, local medical officials will still have limited ability to test people. In the meantime, testing will still follow the current and "very narrow" guidelines from the Iowa Department of Public Health, the CDC and testing labs.

"Once a drive-thru testing site is established in the Lakes Area — and the amount of testing medium is increased — the Test Iowa effort will be helpful here," Harrington said. "We hope that happens soon, assuming our population will be increasing very soon."

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