What Do You Need To Know About the Coronavirus?


COVID – 19

As you know, there has been increased attention recently on the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), and the potential impact it may have at some point in the United States.

The following is information received from sources such as the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Polk County Health Department. Additional resources include the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

  1. COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus first identified in China. The risk for exposure to COVID-19 is associated with recent travel to China, not to race or country of origin. The overall risk to Iowans is low at this time.
  2. People receiving imported goods from China are not at risk of contracting COVID-19. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as letters or packages.
  3. Because it is a respiratory virus, COVID-19 is spread person-to-person among close contacts (about 6 feet) via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is similar to how influenza and other respiratory illnesses are spread.
  4. There are currently (as of 2/26/2020) no cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, and no person-to-person spread in the United States. The general public is unlikely to be exposed at this time. However, the potential public health risk is high. Right now, the risk of contracting influenza is much higher than the risk of COVID-19.
  5. The prevention measures for influenza and COVID-19 are the same:
    1. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the bend in your elbow.
    2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    3. Limit the spread of the illness by staying home from work, school, or other public contact.
    4. Parents should educate their children on proper handwashing and managing a cough or sneeze. It is critical that both adults and children stay home when they have a potentially contagious respiratory illness and/or fever. A person should be fever-free without the use of medications for at least 24 hours before returning to any public area.
    5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as desks, door knobs, faucets, countertops, computer keyboards, phones, etc.
  6. DMPS is currently researching and implementing measures to reduce and control the risk and incidence of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 in schools.
    1. Daily reporting of absences due to illness to Polk County Health Department
    2. Increased stock and use of cleaning and disinfecting products in schools.
    3. Ongoing communication between Safety and Health Services Departments to stay current on guidelines for the prevention and control of illnesses such as coronaviruses.
    4. Ongoing communication with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Polk County Health Department for updated information related to COVID-19.
    5. School Nurses will continue to assess students with respiratory symptoms, and keep potentially infectious/contagious students in the Health Office until they can be taken home by a parent/guardian. Evaluation and treatment by a physician may be recommended.
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