'This is a long-term game': Linn County urging people to not be complacent in stopping virus
Though an outbreak has been identified at
in Linn County, the county’s public health department said it’s experiencing a rise in community spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, Heather Meador, the clinical branch services supervisor for Linn County Public Health, said more than half the cases identified over the weekend resulted from community spread, not a known outbreak. Linn County had reported 752 total cases as of Monday night.
“We should all be familiar with the guidelines given to us by our county health department,” Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said. “When you and I follow these guidelines, you are protecting me, and I’m protecting you. This is a long-term game.”
But people in Linn County aren’t playing that game well enough right now, according to AbouAssaly and Meador, who spoke at the county’s biweekly coronavirus news conference Monday.
Like a broken record, Meador again reminded the public what they should be doing to reduce the risk of spreading the virus: staying home unless it’s necessary to leave; wearing a mask when out in public, especially if it’s not possible to keep six feet of space between themselves and others; and gathering in groups of fewer than 10 people.
“Every interaction you have may be a potential contact to COVID-19,” Meador said. “If you become infected, you may have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. There are people you will expose unknowingly and unwillingly.”
Because of the virus’ incubation period, it could take two to three weeks until the ramifications of those actions are apparent. Meador attributed the recent community spread cases in part to warmer weather arriving in eastern Iowa, especially over the Easter holiday weekend three weeks ago, leading more people to leave their homes and forgoing following social distancing guidance.
That’s also what has public health worried about a car cruise in Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Hundreds of cars lined up, drove along First Avenue, and gathered in the large, MidAmerican Aerospace parking lot on 16th Avenue SW.
Meador said the cruise would have been OK if people stayed in their cars, but not everyone did.
“There are issues with people getting together in the parking lots, and it starts off with just one person talking to one person, but then somebody else comes over, and somebody else comes over, and before you know it, you have a gathering of 25 to 50 people, talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company," Meador said. "But again, that puts the public at risk."
Police can enforce social distancing guidelines with warnings and citations, but they’ve said those are last resorts and are instead
people on what they can and cannot do at this time.
On Monday, AbouAssaly called for people to look after themselves.
“Everyone must do their part by policing themselves and doing the right things to help avoid contracting it and spreading it to others,” AbouAssaly said.
Meador did say the rate of cases reported in Linn County is slowing because of “mass testing within local workplaces,” though she didn’t specify where that was happening. But, she added Linn County still has not hit its peak of infections.
“I cannot tell you with any confidence when that peak will happen,” she said. “We don’t know. We won’t know until it’s happened and we’re on the other side of that trend line.”