Iowa Health Dept. Not Yet Calling for Cancellation of Mass Gatherings

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is not recommending the cancellation of mass gatherings or planned events. In a statement Thursday, the department said there is currently no known community spread of COVID-19 in Iowa.

“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."

Iowa currently has 16 known coronavirus cases. Fifteen of them involve people who were on a cruise ship in Egypt. The other case involves a person in Pottawattamie County near Council Bluffs.

As a precaution, most major colleges and universities in Iowa have cancelled in-person classes either for the entire spring semester or for the next two weeks. Des Moines Public Schools has also closed all school activity for two weeks over concerns of coronavirus.

The state health department is advising that steps be taken to ensure long term care facility residents are protected. It's encouraging long term care facilities to align with recent guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which limits non-essential visitors to long term care facilities. In addition, the department is asking long term care facilities report when two or more staff members or residents get sick with respiratory symptoms without another diagnosis. It further is encouraging long term care facilities to install limitations on visits from outsiders.

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