JCPH encourages continued social distancing

Board of Supervisors
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     After a week of no active COVID-19 cases in Jones County, Public Health Coordinator Jenna Lovaas reported a new case as of June 4 during the board of supervisor meeting.

     Lovaas said the case is rather involved due to the amount of contact tracing required by Public Health. This case encompasses another state, multiple employers, and multiple languages.

     The board asked Lovaas whether social distancing in Iowa was still a requirement with so many businesses opening back up across the state.

     “We’re not seeing social distancing with stuff opening up,” remarked Supervisor Wayne Manternach. “Is that still high on the priority list?”

     Lovaas said it is still required. “We’ll see how it goes in the next couple of weeks as people are not social distancing.”

     She feels the rules are being too relaxed as more and more people experience “COVID fatigue,” despite the fact that the virus is still active in Iowa.

     “There is a spectrum of risk depending on the activities you choose to engage in,” said Lovaas. “At this point, people are going to have to start making decisions about the level of risk they want to take.”

     With states such as Florida, Texas, and Alabama re-opening before Iowa, Lovaas said those states experienced some of their highest case counts after re-opening. Again, she said, the virus isn’t gone.

     County Attorney Kristofer Lyons inquired as to whether the state’s travel restrictions were still in place. The 14-day quarantine is no longer in place for domestic travel, but it is in place for international travel.

     In addition, Lovaas said another change relates to contact tracing. “Close contact” is now defined as being within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or more. (The prior rule was 30 minutes or more.)

     “Everyone needs to continue taking measures to protect themselves and others – physically distancing, face coverings, hand washing, staying home when possible,” concluded Lovaas. “However, we also realize it’s not realistic to tell people to indefinitely avoid all in-person social contact outside their household.

     “There is a spectrum of risk, and we encourage all Jones County residents to consider the relative risk of different activities. While any contact in any setting for any duration has some risk, scientists believe most transmissions is happening in enclosed spaces during sustained contact.”

     Lovaas said being outdoors with others is less risky than remaining indoors. Small group settings are less risky than large groups.

     “Simply passing by someone is less risky than sustained contact,” she added. “As businesses re-open and gathering guidelines relax, people will have to make decisions about the level of risk they are willing to take. We encourage everyone to continue following Jones County Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and/or the CDC for up-to-date information about the pandemic.”

     Brenda Leonard, Emergency Management, informed the board that Homeland Security Emergency Management Division is prepositioning a 30-day supply of PPE for each county. That means they are staging PPE in the counties in case there is another wave of COVID-19 later this summer or fall.

     “This PPE is for frontline healthcare workers,” Leonard said, referring to EMS, hospitals, long-term care facilities, doctors offices, etc.

     Leonard is also applying for a $10,000 grant for more PPE, and is in need of a place to store everything.

     In addition, she is working with local school districts on their “Return to Learn” requirements for the fall.

     County Auditor Janine Sulzner said she is working on securing hand sanitizer for county staff and offices as they re-open by appointment only to the public.

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