UIHC treating second COVID-19 patient, one a case of community spread in Johnson County

The governor reports there are now three known positive cases of community spread in Iowa.


Katie Goodale

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is seen on Sept. 17, 2018.

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is treating a second patient with COVID-19 — the first patient the health-care center has seen with community-acquired transmission, a spokesperson said in a statement Sunday.

“That patient is currently in isolation in the care of University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City,” UIHC communications specialist Molly Rossiter said in a statement. “This means that other patients are kept at a safe distance, and those caring for this individual are properly protected.”

The patient was admitted to the hospital after presenting for emergency care with symptoms associated with COVID-19. Per procedure, the individual was masked upon arrival and staff members took appropriate precautions.

“The fact that this is the first case of community-acquired COVID-19 in Johnson County reminds us of the seriousness of this illness and how our preparedness efforts must continue to protect our staff, patients, and community,” UIHC CEO Suresh Gunasekaran said in a statement. “We remain confident in our preparedness for these patients. The health and safety of all of our patients and staff is our highest priority.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Sunday that the Iowa Department of Public Health was notified of four additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, bringing the state’s total positive cases to 22.

According to the department, two cases are tied to international travel and the individuals are residents of Allamakee County — an adult between ages 41-60 and the other a child ages 0-18. The third case is a middle-age Johnson County resident with no identified travel-related risk or exposure to a known COVID-19 case, and is considered the second case of community spread in Iowa. The fourth individual resides in Polk County and is a middle-age adult and indicates a third case of community spread.

Community spread occurs when individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot identify the infection’s source, or do not know how or where they became infected.

One of Sunday’s new cases was the first Iowa test conducted by a national lab, according to Reynolds’ statement.

“With testing options now expanding, Iowa expects the numbers of positive cases to increase,” the release stated.

The hospital maintains the following resources for COVID-19.

COVID-19 helpline

UI Health Care recently launched a new helpline staffed 24 hours a day/seven days a week to answer questions about influenza or COVID-19 for health-care professionals and community members. The helpline addresses topics such as:

  • Steps to prevent illness
  • How to keep workplaces, school, and communities safe
  • The latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Disease and the Iowa Department of Public Health
  • What UI Health Care is doing to address COVID-19

The helpline is not for urgent patient-care needs. Those with signs or symptoms of the flu or COVID-19 are encouraged to call for a video visit with a UI Health Care provider, according to the statement.

  • For general COVID-19 information and questions: 319-384-8819
  • For patients with COVID-19 and flu symptoms: 319-384-9010
  • For emergencies: 911

Other UI Health Care resources for COVID-19

Video visits: Patients with flu-like symptoms or COVID-19 health concerns can schedule a video visit through their MyChart account or by calling 319-384-9010. Patients will be asked to download Vidyo, a secure video service used for these visits. 

Screening clinics for influenza and COVID-19: Once a patient has been seen by a health-care provider through a video visit, they may be directed to a dedicated UI Health Care clinic for influenza or COVID-19 testing, according to the UIHC statement. These clinics safely and effectively evaluate patients and allow them to return home to wait for results.

UIHC also recommends practicing good hygiene:

  • Use a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
    Do not use your hands when coughing or sneezing to cover your mouth and nose.
  • Wash your hands often.
    Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Maintain a safe distance.
    Take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of getting ill.