The City of Monticello is actively following the Coronavirus Pandemic and recommendations of the Iowa Dpt. of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control. We appear very fortunate, at this moment in time, in Monticello and Iowa, in general. As of March 12 at approximately 6:00 p.m., the total number of cases identified as positive in Iowa totals 16, there are 83 negative tests, and 29 tests pending. (These numbers are very fluid and can change frequently.) Those that tested positive came from the following Counties: Carrol: 1; Johnson: 14; Pottawattamie: 1. (From what I gather, all of those testing positive were on an Egyptian Cruise and many are older which increases the risk of the virus. There have been no deaths.)
The City Council will discuss what if any steps should be taken by the City, City Staff, Departments, etc., with regard to day to day operations, planned events, and activities. The following information is deemed to be accurate, but please do your own research and investigation. The sites recommended to visit include the State of Iowa Dpt. of Public Health, and two Federal Websites, the CDC and the Coronavirus website which is part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Current Position of the Iowa Dpt. of Public Health:
There is currently no known community spread of COVID-19 in Iowa and IDPH is not making any recommendations to cancel planned events and mass gatherings at this time.
“Iowa has not identified community spread of COVID-19 at this time, and absent community spread or additional guidance from our federal partners, we aren’t making any recommendations to cancel events,” said Dr. Caitlin Pedati, IDPH medical director and state epidemiologist. “This is, however, a very fluid situation and we urge the public to closely monitor messaging from the Iowa Department of Public Health for updated guidance.”
The CDC has, however, provided specific guidance for high risk groups. Older adults and those with chronic health conditions should stay away from others who are sick, limit close contact with others in general, avoid crowds, and wash hands often.
The CDC also recommends that event organizers prepare for the possibility of outbreaks and ensure they have contingency plans in place should the need arise. The CDC’s guidance for mass gatherings can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html.
The situation related to COVID-19 is changing rapidly, and Iowans should closely monitor messaging from the Iowa Dept of Public Health and CDC for updated guidance if or when community spread of disease is identified.
COVID-19 was first linked to an outbreak in Wuhan, China, but cases have subsequently been identified in several countries, including the U.S. Current case counts in Iowa can be found: https://idph.iowa.gov/emerging-health-issues/novel-coronavirus?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
Though lots of folks are calling the disease “coronavirus,” this is actually a general term for a family of viruses that can cause everything from the common cold to SARS and MERS. This new strain, or novel coronavirus (nCoV) is one that hasn’t been identified in humans previously. All coronaviruses originally came from animals (SARS from civet cats, MERS from camels), which is why they can emerge so unexpectedly.
The upper respiratory disease that the novel coronavirus causes, so named because it’s a COronaVIrus Disease that appeared in 2019.
As an outbreak spreads, public health officials track cases based on where they originated. Cases can enter a country via travel, where a person has come from an area known to have the disease and brought it to a new place, or they can be community spread, meaning a person who got it from an outbreak area has passed it to someone else in their community. In a lot of ways community spread is worse—it indicates that the virus is now moving within a new area that didn’t previously have the disease.
You might think there’s a technical definition of this term, but epidemics are all relative—it just means an increase in the number of cases you’d expect to see in a given area at any particular kind. For something like the common cold, for instance, thousands of cases in one state or country are to be expected. But if a disease that usually only affects four or five people a month is infecting thousands, that’s an epidemic.
Flattening the Curve
The idea of implementing preventative, social-distancing measures in order to spread out the number of people who are sick at one time. Without measures, many people get sick all at once, leading to a tall, narrow curve. With them, you can flatten the curve—just as many people may get sick overall, but they’ll be spread out over time. For a healthcare system, especially an overwhelmed one, it’s far better to have a million people sick over the course of a year than that same million sick in three months.
Kind of like an epidemic, except we usually reserve this term for very limited geographic areas. You probably wouldn’t say “an outbreak in the Middle East,” for instance, but you might say “an outbreak in Lebanon,” or, more specifically, “an outbreak in Beirut.”
A pandemic is just a bigger epidemic—one that has spread over several countries or even over continents—but not everyone uses it the same. There’s no hard or fast rules about what exactly constitutes a pandemic. The World Health Organization reserves the term for “the worldwide spread of a new disease,” not just a few countries, and as of March 11 have officially designated COVID-19 as a pandemic.
The so-called “R naught” or “R zero” value of an illness is the average number of people who will get infected from a single sick person. A high value indicates that a disease is very infectious, meaning one person will get lots of others sick. Values closer to one are less infectious, and anything under one will peter out quickly. Coronavirus’ reproductive number is somewhere around 2.5 or so, which is right around what it was for SARS but higher than what we see for seasonal influenza.
The name of the actual virus that causes the disease COVID-19. It stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The numeral 2 is because the official viral name for the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003 was called SARS-CoV, and this new virus is closely related.