Even Without Positive Tests, COVID-19 Active in Mills County

Iowa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped by 22 last weekend bringing the state’s total of those who have contracted the virus to 90. By Monday, the count had risen to 105.

In all, 24 Iowa counties have had at least one confirmed case.
Mills County is not among them.

That certainly doesn’t mean the county is immune or that Mills County is luckier than any other county, said Mills County Public Health (MCPH) Administrator Julie Lynes.

“To think we’re free of the disease here in Mills County because we don’t have a confirmed case is naïve and uninformed,” she said. “We should be at the same level of concern as any one else in our state and nation.”
Lynes cautioned against reading too much – or too little – into testing results when considering the county’s health and the success of responsive measures instituted by the state to help curb the virus’ spread.

“We don’t have any positive COVID-19 tests in, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have COVID-19 activity,” she said. “The treatment for COVID-19 is the same whether you get a positive test result or not.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports there have been 1,215 negative tests conducted at the State Hygienic Lab as of Monday.

Lynes would not confirm if any tests have been conducted in the county but she did say, she thinks it’s very likely the virus is in Mills County.

“It’s widespread,” Lynes said. “The governor has said we have moved from community spread to substantial spread. I think people need to take this very seriously and we need to be in alignment with what the governor and Iowa Department of Public Health is asking of us.”

MCPH is recommending anyone with symptoms of CODVID-19 isolate at home. Symptoms include fever, tiredness and a dry cough.

The disease can be very serious and even fatal. The elderly and people with existing medical conditions face higher risk for severe complications from the virus. Eighty percent of those who stay home will have symptoms, they’ll recover and they won’t need medical care, Lynes said.

“There’s no vaccine for this and no medical care treatment specific for this unless you’re having pretty critical medical issues and you need assistance with breathing,” she said. “We don’t want to overtax the medical system. We’re not pinning everything on if we have an actually, confirmed positive test or not because that is not indicative of what’s going on in our county, in our state and in our country.”

Over the last week the governor expanded to the state’s list of closures to include salons, medical spas, barbershops, tattoo establishments, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments and swimming pools among a litany of businesses limited or shuttered all together in the wake of the pandemic.

Iowa’s schools have entered their second week of a closure that is initially expected to last four weeks.

The city and county have followed the state’s mitigation strategy and restricted public access to buildings and offices.

Even with a positive test, the county’s response wouldn’t change, Lynes said.

“We are working hard to flatten the curve, we don’t want to spike,” she said.

So far, Lynes has seen good compliance with public health recommendations. But remaining consistent and persistent with the message that staying home, washing hands and riding out the storm is the best remedy right now.

“If you are sick, stay home, isolate yourself,” Lynes said. “The only exception to that is if you are over 60 or have underlying medical conditions and feel sick, immediately contact your doctor by phone. Let them know immediately because for certain populations they need that specialized cared 80 percent of us won’t need.”


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