1,000 test kits brought to Dubuque County for long-term care facility workers

Published: May. 5, 2020 at 9:08 PM CDT
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Dubuque County has received one thousand test kits for COVID-19 from the state of Iowa.

The testing kits will be used on staff in long term care facilities as well as people identified through contact tracing. Many of the facilities believe it is important that they are a priority group because of the fact that staff work with such a vulnerable population.

At Luther Manor Communities, staff members are screened every day before being allowed to start their shift. Executive Director Janet Warren said that testing kits are just one more step to make sure they are being as safe as they can be.

"We're following all the department of public health guidelines but the testing would just be one more additional step," Warren said.

Finding out that staff at long term care facilities will be tested for COVID-19 has been a relief to many.

"If we do have COVID in the building and it's unknown then it would be best we can take action right away before it becomes something that is widespread," Warren said.

The state turned the County down for both a TestIowa site and a special "strike team" for testing. Dubuque's Public Health Specialist Mary Rose Corrigan said that the Incident Management Team understands that every community wants a test site.

"Although we were disappointed we weren't selected, we are happy we could work out a compromise to at least begin doing additional testing," Corrigan said.

At long term care facilities where testing has begun, the staff is more than willing to participate.

Hawkeye Care administrator Dani Ettema said that staff members realize how important it is to keep residents healthy and, more importantly, want to keep themselves healthy.

"Nobody wants to bring this in the building, so everyone has been really good about wanting to be tested because they want to protect our residents, our staff do," Ettema said.

Those facilities like Luther Manor that have not been as lucky realize that not knowing is much worse than being prepared.

"The sooner that we can understand what we're dealing with then the sooner that we can contain it because it is going to be so easily spread to just the residents," Warren said. "And the residents are the most vulnerable."

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