Johnson County Public Health and hospitals respond to recent spike in COVID-19 cases

As positive cases of coronavirus continue to increase in Johnson County, Iowa City hospitals and medical experts are responding accordingly.


David Harmantas

Iowa City’s Mercy Hospital location on September 25, 2017. Kathleen and Andrew Kromphardt, sued Mercy Hospital of Iowa City, Obstetric and Gynecologic Associates of Iowa City and Coralville and Jill Goodman, an obstetrician-gynecologist and one of the directors of the Coralville clinic after their newborn sustained serious brain damage after his birth at the hospital.

Sebastian Lechuga, News Reporter

Despite a sharp increase in positive coronavirus cases in Johnson County in the month of June, Iowa City hospitals say they are not experiencing challenges dealing with an increase in COVID-19 patients.

Daily case counts have consistently increased in Johnson County since June 15. Many restaurants and retail stores which reopened recently, have since decided to close their doors again in response to the uptick in cases and in an effort to mitigate the virus.

In the Southeast region of the state, which includes Johnson County, there are currently 31 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and 12 of those patients are in intensive care.

Margaret Reese, Mercy Iowa City director of communications, said the hospital has not encountered any issues as COVID-19 cases increase.

“We haven’t had any issues in the past month,” Reese said. “This month hasn’t even been our highest numbers of tests recorded… The second half of April and May were higher.”

Reese said test kits have become more available recently, so the hospital has been able to test more patients.

“With having more testing kits, we are able to be more cautious by testing more,” Reese said. “Anyone who has a surgery appointment, someone going straight to the ER, and of course people having symptoms of COVID-19 will be tested.”

Reese added that the majority of positive tests in the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases came from young adults.

“Over the past month, most of the people who tested positive were people from the ages of 18-25 years old,” she said.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has also seen an increased number of COVID-19 cases.

RELATED: Johnson County health and business leaders urge mask wearing as coronavirus cases tick up in the county 

Jennifer Brown, spokesperson for UI Health Care, said in an email to The Daily Iowan that the university hospital continues to promote mitigation strategies to the public.

“The hospital continues to remind everyone in our community to follow several simple steps to prevent community transmission and slow the cases,” Brown said. “When in public, wear a face covering, practice social distancing, wash hands or use hand sanitizer, early and often, and if socializing is necessary, do so in small groups.”

UIHC uses a Home Treatment Team program to treat patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 but are not hospitalized. The hospital sends a kit with a blood pressure cuff and a pulse oximeter to allow the patient to track their vital signs, Brown said.

People who test positive for COVID-19 are automatically contacted by a CDC representative in Johnson County, who asks them questions about their COVID-19 status.

Sam Jarvis, community health division manager for Johnson County Public Health, said public-health staff are not currently overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, despite the increase of cases since mid-June.

“Certainly there are many days that we are busy, but we are managing just fine,” Jarvis said. “We have about 27 individuals with specific work schedules to help out the patients.”