Wayne County Public Health Administrator Shelley Bickel along with Wayne County Hospital CEO Darren Relph are working with officials within Wayne County regarding Covid-19. In a meeting held this afternoon, March 16, they advised there are no confirmed cases within the county. 

“It is moving so fast, everything is changing,” said Wayne County Public Health Administrator Shelley Bickel in a special meeting held the afternoon of Monday, March 16. “Yesterday the schools were open and we had a plan in place, then the schools closed today.”

“We have contacted all our home health care clients, trying to get it out there, trying to push the message that all people aged 60 and older should stay home and kind of self-isolate,” Bickel continued. “I’ve got Hy-Vee lined up and they will deliver in the country for groceries and prescriptions.”

“It is really important that the elderly stay in and self-isolate as much as they can,” Bickel added.

Masks and anti-bacterial hand sanitizer have been made available immediately as you enter the courthouse. Bickel has also given masks to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office should they be needed.

“It’s up to you, if someone is coughing then they need to wear them and you as well,” said Bickel. “The droplets are what is contaminated.”

“We had one person I did isolate yesterday as a possible case,” said Bickel. “We went out and swabbed them with three swabs this morning and they are positive for Influenza A. I have released them for that so that is good.”

“We are trying to do Influenza A and B tests first,” Bickel added. “I have another person self-quarantined and he tested negative for A and B and has been sick for four weeks. He is not to leave his house. If people are leaving their house per isolation quarantine I can get the sheriff’s department involved.”

The person that tested positive for Influenza A was released from self-isolation, however was directed by Bickel to not return to work while sick.

Information can be obtained by dialing 211 from your telephone as well as information from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the CDC websites as well as the Wayne County Public Health Facebook page.

“David (Rhodes) was to contact all the restaurants today to give them some ideas because they are still open, but who knows,” stated Bickel. “The governor is talking at 4:30 and she could shut down all bars and restaurants.

“I also got a call right before I got here that there is a big Amish sale and people don’t want it,” Bickel began. “People are expected from all over the country and that’s a lot of people coming in here that have never been vaccinated in their life. I have asked the sheriff’s office if they could shut it down.”

“When is that sale?” asked Auditor Michelle Dooley.

“Wednesday,” answered Bickel.   

“I was at the Polk County Emergency Management Conference and they stressed to use the 211 service,” said Emergency Management Director Bill Byrns. “Don’t call the clinic. Don’t call the hospital because they are busy enough. Call 211 and if you have any questions they can answer them.”

“There is a lot of coordination going with Des Moines right now with Mercy being one of the receiving places for Covid patients, we are having phone calls three times a day with Mercy in Des Moines,” said Wayne County Hospital CEO Darren Relph. “We could potentially receive their non-Covid patients if they began to get overrun with affected patients. We are in a second-tier for that.”

“Are you seeing an increased number in your patients currently?” asked Byrns.

“No, not particularly and in fact our surgical floor is about as low as we’ve had in months and that’s fine,” said Relph.

“If we have somebody that meets all the criteria and meets the symptoms, but hasn’t been tested yet, who is the lead here?” asked Wayne County Board of Health member Penny White. “Do they go to the hospital or the clinic?”

“Our advice is we would want them to call in and visit with a physician to screen them and determine how dire it is and if they are respiratory compromised,” stated Relph.

Symptoms of Covid-19 include fevers, chills, aches and pains that will begin first followed by possible sore throats and those that have serious cases will struggle with breathing having shortness of breath. Bickel advised shortness of breath is also an indicator of pneumonia developing within the lungs.

“Is this more of not if it gets into Wayne County, but when it gets here?” asked Dooley.

“Probably,” said Relph.

“It’s probably here,” answered Bickel. “Somebody could be walking around. By chance one of us could have the symptoms because really I think it’s 80 or 90 percent have very mild symptoms to no symptoms. One of us could be sitting here non-symptomatic and be okay.”

“We want to stress, we have had no confirmed cases in Wayne County,” Byrns reiterated.

“We have one quarantined because he has tested negative for A and B and he is very sick, and I will be calling him again tonight and we will see where we are at,” said Bickel. “My goal is, I think they took a swab to send off to the reference lab so I will work with the lab at the hospital to get that off tomorrow when the courier comes.”

Rhoades, the Environmental Health Director advised he spoke with nearly all restaurants within the county noting most were already taking precautions based off of news announcements.

“They have shut down their salad bars, their buffets and doing the extra cleaning,” said Rhoades. “The biggest complaint I have heard so far is them getting their hands on cleaning product. Some went to buy bleach and all they could find was two gallons and they go through that pretty quickly. That will be an issue if they get to stay open.

Rhoades plans to remain in contact as events unfold.

“Every one said if they shut down, they probably will not open back up,” Rhoades added. “Every one of them said that.”

“They may need to go to delivery or a pickup service,” Bickel advised.

“One of them shut down their buffet now so I asked what are they going to do if they suggest closing down the restaurants and they said we will do curbside pickup,” Rhoades added. “They have a contingency plan while they can stay open, thinking out of the box.”

Byrns advised they would continue to monitor statements released by Governor Reynolds and see what develops overnight.

We will continue to update this rapidly evolving situation in our community.

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