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Polk County urges safety during holiday weekend and taking precautions at care facilities as cases increase

A memo from the Polk County Health Department urges long-term care facilities to continue practicing mitigation strategies to protect their residents.

Polk County health officials are urging long-term care facilities to continue proper COVID-19 mitigation strategies as central Iowa experiences a surge in new cases.

A memo sent from the Polk County Health Department (PCHD) on Tuesday says the United States "has experienced the highest case counts of the pandemic, over 40,000 cases in the past two days."

Central Iowa is following the same trend, according to the health department. 

"The seven-day trend has shown an increase of 20% of new cases reported in central Iowa," the release reads. 

Long-term care facilities are urged to continue the following mitigation strategies:

  • Visitation generally prohibited, except for compassionate care situations.
  • Restricted entry of non-essential healthcare personnel.
  • Communal dining limited (for COVID-19 negative or asymptomatic residents only), but residents may eat in the same room with social distancing (limited number of people at tables and spaced by at least 6 feet).
  • Non-medically necessary trips outside the building should be avoided.

RELATED: Polk County health officials call 20% increase in COVID-19 cases a 'disturbing trend'

Credit: WOI
This graph details daily positive coronavirus cases for the month of June. Data from the Iowa Dept. of Public Health as of June 30, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

Local 5 spoke with Nola Aigner Davis with the Polk County Health Department about the recent uptick in cases. 

"One of the biggest things that we really encourage people is to think about the decisions they make," Aigner Davis said. "And I think what you need to realize is what you're doing now, what you're doing over the weekend, that can really effect everyone else around you."

With many events still being held over the Fourth of July Weekend, the department doesn't think gathering en masse is the best thing to do. 

"I think that one of the safest things we can say is 'Don't go'," Aigner Davis said. "But if you're going to go, you need to think about wearing a mask. A mask is your first line of defense to keep yourself healthy."

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