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Officials: Virus outbreak at care facility infects 21

IOWA CITY (AP) — An outbreak of the coronavirus at an eastern Iowa long-term care facility has infected 21 residents and employees, public health officials said Monday.
The outbreak at the Cedar Rapids facility has contributed to a recent surge of infections in Linn County, which on Monday became the county in Iowa with the most cases.
Linn County Public Health spokeswoman Heather Meador would not identify the affected facility, saying that could jeopardize the privacy of its residents. She said state and local public health officials were working with the facility’s corporate owner to monitor the situation, including the health of residents and safety of employees.
“We are in daily communication so we can help the facility and the residents through this crisis,” Meador said at a news conference.
Linn County now has had 71 residents test positive for the coronavirus. Johnson County, which has 70 cases, had been the leader in Iowa since the beginning of the outbreak.
Linn County has also had two of Iowa’s six virus-related deaths, including that of a person over the age of 81 announced Monday. Meador would not say whether those deaths were linked to the outbreak at the long-term care facility.
“The virus is spreading through our community at a pretty good clip,” said Linn County Board of Supervisors Chairman Stacey Walker, who urged Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a shelter-in-place order.
Reynolds on Monday did not take such a step even as she announced 88 more Iowa residents have tested positive for COVID-19, the largest single day increase thus far. She said the other new death in Iowa was a Washington County resident over the age of 81.
The increase in cases, which brings the state total to 424, comes as the number of tests conducted has also jumped. Health officials said they expect cases in Iowa to increase for two to four more weeks before peaking.
“The reality is that the end is not yet in sight,” Reynolds said. “For now we must adjust to a new normal, one that is uncomfortable, inconvenient and uncertain. And this is not an easy time.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Reynolds has ordered bars, dine-in restaurants, theaters, casinos and businesses that sell furniture, books and clothing to remain closed until at least April 7 to help limit the virus’ spread. Schools have been closed statewide.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.