COVID-19

Two corrections have been made with this week’s Iowa County COVID 19 Dashboard.

As we have indicated, we’ve been diligently involved in a process of correcting/cleaning data which necessitated adjustments to the number of negative results reported.  This process contributed to the errors we discovered today on the testing metric and the positivity rate reported Monday.

The corrected testing rate is 37.7 average tests done each day in the past two weeks (7/21-8/3). This places us in green status. We continue to encourage anyone with symptoms to contact your health care provider to be tested.

The corrected metric conveying percentage of positive cases is 2.6 %. This metric is based on a denominator we discovered was incorrect.  

We apologize for the errors as it is extraordinarily important to us that our data is accurate. We also strive for transparency. As individual cases are investigated, there may be corrections to the status and details of cases that result in changes to this information. Some examples of corrections or updates that may lead to changes to our data, such as case and negative counts and deaths going up or down, include: 

  • Update or correction of case's address, resulting in a change to their location of residence to another county or state,
  • Correction to laboratory result,
  • Correction to a case's status from confirmed to unconfirmed (for example, if they were marked as confirmed because a blood test detecting antibodies was positive instead of a test detecting the virus causing COVID-19),
  • De-duplication or merging and consolidation of case records,
  • Update of case's demographic information from missing or unknown to complete information


Forward Iowa County

Purpose

The COVID-19 pandemic is a significant threat to our county, state and country and may continue for months or years until a vaccine is developed, but the citizens of Iowa County do not have months or years to wait to act. The goals of the Iowa County Health Department (ICHD) during this pandemic are to:

  • Reduce the number of people who contract COVID-19
  • Reduce the number of people who die from COVID-19

In the absence of a vaccine or treatments specific to COVID-19, population-based mitigation strategiescontact tracing, isolation, quarantine and, most notably, strict social or physical distancing contained in public health orders such as Safer at Home—have saved lives and slowed the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.  However, the strictest of these prevention strategies, i.e. Safer at Home, comes at a significant cost to our economy, businesses, schools and the health and well-being of our community at large.

The Iowa County Health Department is committed to its intent to keep Iowa County residents and communities safe and healthy and to reopen Iowa County in a way that builds a strong foundation for long-term economic recovery.  Local public health infrastructure in Iowa County is robust, especially with regard to testing, supporting isolation and quarantine, conducting prompt contact tracing and ensuring the local healthcare system is equipped to handle surges in COVID-19 illness.  The ICHD uses public health strategies informed by data and the best evidence available to provide guidance.

However, moving ahead too quickly threatens recent progress and work towards minimizing the spread of the virus, which could have significant health and economic consequences.  This document is not meant to replace state or federal guidance but rather to supplement guidance with local data and considerations.  The information contained in this document and the Iowa County COVID-19 dashboard will be used to approach situations specific to the Iowa County community.

While it is the hope of the ICHD that our path forward will be linear, it is impossible to predict the course of this pandemic.  It is possible that the ICHD may have to tighten or loosen policies to support Iowa County residents in staying safe and healthy and to maintain adequate capacity in our healthcare and public health systems.

Collective Responsibilities for Meeting Our Goals

In order to move Iowa County forward, each sector is encouraged to be aligned with our primary goals:

  • Reducing the number of people who contract COVID-19
  • Reducing the number of people who die from COVID-19

Each Iowa County resident and sector plays a critical role in meeting these goals. By working together, everyone can contribute to maintaining health and safety while Iowa County moves forward.

Public Health

Public health professionals have the responsibility of tracking the COVID-19 virus and initiating a balanced response.  Responsibilities of the local public health department during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Conducting contact tracing for positive test results reported
    • In addition, Iowa County provides individualized guidance and education for residents with pending tests
  • Supporting quarantine and isolation logistics when necessary
  • Identifying and implementing population-level mitigation strategies
  • Providing guidance for safe reopening in alignment with state and federal plans
  • Providing guidance and recommendations to businesses, congregate facilities and individuals to implement infection control practices and contain outbreaks
  • Tracking progress, local data and communicating with the public
  • Promoting an equitable response across all populations
    • In Iowa County, this includes providing resources for long-term care facilities, individuals without access to health insurance and those who do not speak English
    • Residents who are uninsured and/or do not speak English can receive access to care and COVID-19 testing through the Community Connections Free Clinic

Healthcare

Health care systems are on the front lines of care, providing prompt diagnosis and treatment.  A critical component of the local health care and economic systems is Upland Hills Health, which is also one of the largest employers in Iowa County.  Responsibilities of the local health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Creating a strong disease response partnership between the health care system and the community
  • Testing and identifying positive COVID-19 cases
  • Collaborating with public health to test vulnerable populations and identify emerging surges
  • Developing plans and increasing capacity in case of a surge
    • This includes personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, ICU capacity and respiratory support
  • Using infection control procedures to screen staff for symptoms, test for COVID-19, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in employees

Emergency Management

Emergency Management (EM) has been instrumental in the Iowa County COVID-19 response and played a key role in establishing and operating the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which was set up on March 13, 2020.  The EOC allowed for a structured incident command approach to the threat of COVID-19 and remains open in mid-June to allow partners to continue to collaborate, communicate and respond.  EM leads a number of COVID-19-related efforts including:

  • Supporting local mortuary service and mobile morgue
  • Establishing an Iowa County COVID-19 Isolation Shelter
  • Support liaison to public safety partners
  • Establishment of a county-wide PPE inventory
    • Includes procurement, maintenance, coordination and distribution
  • Management of mask and face covering donations
  • Coordination of N-95 mask sanitization
  • Managing requests for testing services and supplies
  • Communicating with the public and regional collaborators

Businesses

The business community plays a critical role as the driver of the Iowa County economy. To support a safe and successful reopening strategy, the ICHD invites the support of the private sector in promoting the health of Iowa County residents and workersResponsibilities of the private sector during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Protecting the health and safety of employees and customers
  • Developing flexible sick leave policies and creating a culture in which sick employees can stay home
  • Monitoring staff for symptoms and working with local public health if an employee is diagnosed or comes into contact with the COVID-19 virus
  • Implementing infection control and prevention policies, such as disinfecting surfaces frequently and maintaining physical distancing
  • Communicating the importance of prevention measures to management, staff and customers

Community Members

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, every Iowa County resident is encourages to participate in these activities:

  • Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and covering coughs and sneezes
  • Staying home when sick
  • Frequently cleaning high-touch objects including doorknobs, remote controls, cell phones and light switches
  • Following public health recommendations and population-level prevention strategies, including maintaining physical distancing, wearing cloth face coverings and limiting mass gatherings

Forward Iowa County – Metrics

The ICHD has identified metrics which will help inform recommendations regarding how and when individuals can interact safely.  The current status of Iowa County related to these metrics will be showcased in a dashboard identifying key measures that will help with decision making both today and in the future.  The dashboard measures three broad types of data including:

Epidemiology—What is the local disease burden, and how is it changing?

Healthcare—Can local public health and health care systems handle disease burden?

Public health—Is Iowa County able to contain infections and outbreaks?

Emergency management—Does Iowa County EM have adequate supplies and functional operations?

Epidemiology

The ICHD is measuring the epidemiology metrics of disease incident, positivity rate and outbreak monitoring.  The primary aim of these metrics is to decrease disease activity so the COVID-19 viral reproduction rate declines and the disease does not spread swiftly through the population.

Health care

Sustained and adequate testing rates based on the population size of Iowa County ensures our epidemiology measures are meaningful.  Detecting active infection by testing leads to contact tracing and prevention of further disease transmission.  In addition to testing, it is vital that health care systems are equipped to manage patient care during COVID-19 surges.  To ensure that local health care systems are functional, the ICHD measures local health care facility use, staffing and supplies.

Public Health

The third set of metrics on the ICHD COVID-19 dashboard measures the ability to identify and isolate cases to prevent further spread.  Through rapid contact tracing, the ICHD can identify and notify exposed individuals or contacts. By providing education and isolation assistance, the ICHD can support affected individuals for the duration of the infectious period, thereby lowering the risk of disease spread in the community.  

Emergency Management

Emergency Management is an essential partner in the pandemic response, and the health department works in conjunction with EM to assess for adequate function and day to day operations.

Additional Measures

In addition to the public-facing metrics, the ICHD will be monitoring additional measures when during disease surges to help identify opportunities to adjust our response.  These process measures look at transmission dynamics, the timeliness of lab reporting, outbreak monitoring within priority populations and capacity for supporting isolation/quarantine.  The ICHD COVID-19 response is not complete without taking into account the broader context of COVID-19 disease activity across the Southern Wisconsin region.  More information regarding the regional context of the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.