Coronavirus comes to Iowa

State Public Health officials updated legislators today on cases of coronavirus within Iowa. It’s normal to be concerned, especially with reports of illness and death, so we want to pass along what we’re learning.

This post was last updated on March 17, 2020.
For our latest COVID-19 updates, information and resources, go to

Iowa news on coronavirus

Legislators are receiving regular updates from state officials on coronavirus within Iowa.

It is normal to be concerned, especially with reports of illness and death, so we want to keep you posted on cases of COVID-19 and the state’s response.

At this time, 29 presumptive cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the following countied: Adair, Allamakee, Black Hawk, Carroll, Dallas, Harrison Johnson, Polk and Pottawatomie. The initial cases were people who had traveled to affected areas, but community spread is happening within Iowa.

How is the state responding?

The Governor has proclaimed a disaster emergency.

Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and their health care partners are doing what they are trained to do to protect the patients, themselves and the community. That includes:

** Upon discovery of the existence of substantial community spread of COVID-19 in the state, Gov. Reynolds is recommending that Iowa schools close for four weeks.

** The State Hygienic Laboratory is equipped to test for cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in Iowa residents.

** The State Emergency Operations Center is collaborating with state agencies to respond.

** The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is prepared to step up response efforts as needed.

** The University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa have dedicated web pages with their updates and are moving to virtual instruction.

** The Long-Term Care Ombudsman notes that many facilities are limiting visitation, but communication with loved ones will be available via phone, Facetime, Skype, etc. Concerns may be directed to the Ombudsman’s office at 866-236-1430.

According to IDPH, relevant information is being provided to schools, child cares, businesses, health providers, long-term care providers, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement and local public health partners.

** The Department of Corrections is not allowing visitors at its prisons. Find all of the DOC’s updates related to this pandemic at 

There is a mandatory disease reporting order in place for COVID-19. This means all providers must report positive results to IDPH for public health surveillance and monitoring. Case numbers are updated regularly and IDPH releases those details to the public.

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, appearing two to 14 days after exposure. There is no current specific treatment for COVID-19, but efforts are underway to evaluate potential therapeutics and vaccines.

How it can spread

** Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are likely most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

** By touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

** Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting a potential animal-to-person spread. But chances are slim that pets or livestock could contract coronavirus.

How to prevent spread

** Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

** Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

** Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

** Stay home when you are sick.

** Cover your mouth with your upper arm or tissue when coughing or sneezing.

** Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What precautions should you take?

** Go about your normal routine, but plan what you will do if you or a loved one gets sick. What would you do if you could not go to work or school because of illness? What if your daycare provider was ill? How would you get groceries if you were ill?

** Travelers returning from a country where COVID-19 is spreading—currently China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea—are encouraged to voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days following their return. If you need to seek medical care, call ahead to your doctor’s office.

** Call 911 if you need immediate medical attention.

Further information

COVID-19 Fact Sheet

2019 Novel Coronavirus FAQ

Talking to Children about COVID-19

Latest from the CDC: Coronavirus.Gov

Latest from the Iowa Public Dept of Public Health on Coronavirus

Do you still have questions?

** Call the 211 Helpline. It’s available 24/7. Anyone can call with questions.

** Call your county public health office. Find their contact info.

** Call 911 if you need immediate medical attention.

Upon discovery of the existence of substantial community spread of COVID-19 in the state, Gov. Reynolds is recommending that Iowa schools close for four weeks.