JOHNSTON — State officials say 30 residents and staff members at a Cedar Rapids nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19.
The first COVID-19-related death of a resident at a U.S. nursing home was reported February 29th in Washington state. On March 14th, Governor Kim Reynolds ordered Iowa nursing homes closed to visitors Brent Willett is president and CEO of the Iowa Health Care Association, which works with nursing homes and Reynolds asked him to speak at her news conference on Tuesday.
“We understand the challenges these visitation procedures have placed on families,” Willett said. “However, it is vitally important that we do everything that we can to protect the health and safety of their loved ones and our residents.”
Last week, Iowa’s governor ordered that nursing home staff have their temperatures taken before each shift, to check for a fever — which is one of the symptoms for COVID-19. Willett said emergency plans suggest nursing homes move patients who test positive for COVID-19 into separate wings of a facility. Shannon Strickler is president and CEO of Leading Age Iowa, an association that represents not-for-profit nursing homes, and she spoke at the governor’s news conference, too.
“All group activities and communal dining has been placed on hold and social distancing is being practiced,” she said.
Federal records indicate there are 439 nursing homes in Iowa. Last week, officials reported five employees of long-term care facilities in four Iowa counties had tested positive for COVID-19 and one nursing home resident had been diagnosed with the virus.