Declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization last week, the presence of the coronavirus in the United States has triggered a number of cancellations of public and sporting events. A number of public institutions continue to react to the ongoing situation in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, in an effort to ease the potential strain on state and local healthcare systems. While the number of coronavirus cases in Iowa is expected to climb, it is important to realize that the virus is a much more serious threat to individuals with weakened or otherwise compromised immune systems. Thus far, the vast majority of individuals who have contracted it have suffered flu-like symptoms that are far from life-threatening.

As this issue of The Progress Review goes to press, statements from a number of local agencies about the coronavirus have been made. As of last week, Union Community Schools, which is on hiatus for Spring Break this week, posted the following information on the district’s Facebook page:

“In light of the Iowa Board of Regents announcement that all state universities will move toward online course work following spring break, the Cedar Valley area school districts want to assure our families and communities that normal operations will continue for the foreseeable future.
While our overarching objective is to keep students and staff members safe, we also acknowledge that we have a social responsibility to ensure the continuity of education for our students. The Black Hawk County Health Department has asserted that the risk to students and staff is minimal at this time and they do not believe that the current situation warrants closing.

In the event that the Iowa Department of Public Health determines that there is a need for closure, or other action, the Black Hawk County Health Department and school district will coordinate to respond, and communicate additional information at that time.

As districts, we are working to be proactive and preventative, while operating in a state of preparedness. We are in constant communication with the Black Hawk County Health Department, as well as the Iowa Department of Public Health. Moving forward, we will continue to partner with and follow the guidance of these agencies. For reference, the most up-to-date information about the corona virus can be found via the Iowa Department of Public Health Corona virus and the Centers for Disease Control Corona virus.

The safety and well-being of our students and staff is always our top priority. We all have procedures in place as part of our district emergency operating plan[s] to handle situations regarding the spread of illness.”
In another announcement posted online, La Porte Specialty Care announced it will be restricting building access to non-essential visitors. Only immediate family, who have a critical need to visit a loved one will be allowed into the building on a case by case basis. At this time, the facility is discouraging social visits. Anyone who has traveled an area or country listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak during the month of March should refrain from entering the building.
The facility encourages those who want to maintain access with their loved ones to take advantage of their Skype account to communicate face-to-face online. Contact La Porte City Specialty Care at 319-342-2125 for additional information.

Late last week, the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Department released the following statement:
“Starting several weeks ago, the Black Hawk County Jail started deep cleaning, antimicrobial and disinfection protocols to build a stronger foundation and baseline for defenses against the virus within the inmate population. Beginning immediately, additional medical screenings and evaluations of all arrestees will start being implemented. Additionally, the jail medical staff has identified current inmates who are immunocompromised for projected isolation and distancing protocols. There are also plans in place for isolation of incoming arrestees to protect others during the potential incubation period for those screened as “concerning”.

“Obviously one of our major concerns is the continuity of operations and ensuring that public safety efforts continue. To that end, we have had conversations with our local law enforcement partners to ensure that coverage, cross-coverage, and cooperative efforts will allow for no disruption of emergency services should staffing become compromised as a result of this virus,” Thompson added.

More extreme measures, including the discontinuance of jail visitation, jail programming, reductions in office hours and curtailing of other situations requiring face-to-face interaction are planned for and anticipated when conditions are considered appropriate for further isolation and distancing. More information will be released as it becomes available and is deemed appropriate.”

City staff in La Porte City are presently formulating new policies, working in conjunction with the City Council of La Porte City. Local residents can find information pertaining to any operational protocols being initiated by the City of La Porte City online at www.lpcia.com, as soon as it becomes available. This would include Public Safety (Police and Fire departments), Public Works, La Porte City Utilities, as well as Hawkins Memorial Library and the FFA Historical and Ag Museum.