MASON CITY — The director of the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health renewed his plea during a Wednesday afternoon news conference for people to stay at home as much as possible and to practice social distancing.
Brian Hanft says you should not be planning even small parties or gatherings during the coronavirus situation. “Community events, social gatherings, even parties or other gatherings with people of more than 10 need to stop, and I’d even say that number should be much lower than that. Please remember that the spread of virus, or lack thereof, is determined by each and every person taking responsibility to follow these rules. I’m pleading for everyone to own their actions and stay at home whenever possible.”
Hanft says if you feel the need to have a social gathering, consider doing something online like a number of people have been doing. “If group gatherings must take place, there’s some really cool things that are happening out there where people are actually having parties, but they are doing that over Zoom or Skype or other electronic ways. Some people are doing trivia night that they used to host at the local tavern but they are now doing it in their homes with their friends and their families.”
Hanft says the state has implemented new guidelines for those who have traveled outside of Iowa for work or pleasure in the last 14 days. “Anyone who has taken a cruise anywhere in the world in the last 14 days, anyone who has traveled internationally to a country with a ‘level three’ travel warning in the last 14 days, or lives with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19…for those people, they need to make sure they stay home and isolate in place for 14 days after the last exposure.”
Hanft says 80% of those who become infected with COVID-19 will have only mild symptoms and need to stay home in an effort not to over-burden the health care system. “It is incredibly important that those people remain in their homes. Isolate in place, isolate away from your family members. It’s going to be a difficult time to isolate, but it is critically important. This is one of the primary keys that we work through public health, with our response partners, primarily our hospital partners, that we reduce the load on the response team.”
For information about isolation guidelines and other information about COVID-19, you can look online at cghealth.com. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 that are more than mild such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, call MercyOne Family Healthline at 641-428-7777. The nurse will instruct you on the best next steps for your care and whether you qualify for testing, based on your symptoms. For general questions call the COVID-19 call center at 641-494-3543, 641-494-3546 or 641-494-3547.