COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Am I at risk for COVID-19?

Visit the Iowa Department of Public Health's and State of Iowa website for the up-to-date COVID-19 numbers: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ 

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

The Iowa Department of Public Health will update the following chart with numbers of Iowans being monitored and tested for COVID-19 each day, Monday through Friday. Visit the State of Iowa's Coronavirus website for COVID-19 numbers: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ 

What is community spread?

Community Spread: Occurs where individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected (e.g., cannot spread the illness to a specific event, like a cruise).

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to CDC, patients with confirmed COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

Some patients have had other symptoms including muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

How long should I stay home if sick?

Persons who think or know they have COVID-19 and have symptoms should isolate until:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and
  • Symptoms have improved

Persons who test positive for COVID-19 and do not have symptoms should isolate until:

  • 10 days have passed since test

If I have symptoms, when should I see a doctor?

If you have symptoms and can manage those symptoms at home, you don't have to seek health care or be tested for COVID-19. Just stay home while you are sick. If you are older or have underlying medical conditions, it may be helpful to let your health care provider know you are sick. They may have some specific advice for you. Some people with COVID-19 have worsened during the second week of illness. If your symptoms worsen at any point, and you do need to go see a doctor, call 211, talk to the medical line before going in.

How can we prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Iowans should do their part to protect their health and the health of others:

  • Individuals 60 years of age and older with underlying conditions should stay at home and avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel to affected areas.
  • Consider personal social distancing measures: avoid large gatherings, limit the number of attendees per gathering.
  • Consider working remotely or online learning when possible.
  • Encourage staff to telework (when feasible), particularly individuals at increased risk of severe illness.
  • Limit non-essential work travel and gatherings.
  • Follow CDC guidance regarding school closures if a school-based case is identified, implement short term suspension for school cleaning and contact tracing, and alter schedules to reduce student mixing. Cancel extracurricular activities as needed.

The CDC, Iowa Department of Public Health and Jasper County Health Department continue to monitor the situation in the United States and in Iowa. 

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The virus is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Your healthcare professional will work with state and local public health department according to CDC guidelines for testing to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. 

How can I protect myself and my family from COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the Jasper County Health Department always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Should I wear a mask to protect myself from COVID-19?

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Cloth face coverings should not be worn by:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance

Am I at risk for COVID-19 from a package or products shipped from China?

Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.  There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are not very hearty viruses and generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets.

This is an ever evolving health concern. Information is constantly changing. For the most up-to-date information please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov and the Iowa Department of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov.

Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC Frequently Asked Questions and Answers 

IDPH Frequently Asked Questions and Answers 

Why isn’t the Health Department releasing zip code data on positive COVID-19 cases?

Over the past couple of weeks, the Jasper County Health Department has had several requests to release positive cases of COVID-19 based on zip code data. There are several reasons why we do not feel this would be beneficial to our community.

Iowa law provides that certain information, data and records collected under public health legal authority are confidential and may not be disclosed to the public. The law speaks to population identifiers. The concern is that the specific information about populations could potentially breach confidentiality for individuals.

Publishing positive test results by the zip code where someone lives can promote stigma toward the residents of that zip code. Incorrect assumptions can be made about that community that could threaten their health and well-being.

Unless it informs decision-making about specific actions to take in a zip code and provides support to a population, it could be more harmful than useful. We never want to put our community in harm’s way by releasing specific data.