Linn County Public Health (LCPH) updated its definition of COVID-19 close contact Thursday morning, along with additional guidance as the number of local confirmed cases continues to climb to levels not seen previously during the pandemic.

According to an update this morning from the New York Times, Cedar Rapids, the largest city in Linn County, has the fifth-highest positive case rate per 100,000 people in the United States over the last two weeks. Cedar Rapids has 5,977 recent cases of COVID-19 with an average daily per 100,000 rate of 156.4. That is behind only Minot, North Dakota (249.2), El Paso, Texas (203.7), Grand Forks, North Dakota (193.4), and Bismarck, North Dakota (169.5) nationally.

A media release from LCPH says "This increase in cases within a short amount of time will (also) push our healthcare system towards a critical level, affecting bed and staff capacity to care for ill patients." As a result, LCPH is updating not only its definition of close contact but is also recommending other actions.

Effective immediately, LCPH is using the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations for COVID-19 close contact. These guidelines are in effect regardless of whether or not a mask was worn during contact:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period, starting from 2 days before illness onset or testing.
  • Living in the same household as a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them).
  • Being sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you from a COVID-19 infected individual.

Anyone who meets any of the above criteria should quarantine 14 days after the final exposure. Persons with close contact should isolate themselves if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, or test positive for the virus.

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While at home, isolated persons should stay in a "sick room” and use a different bathroom, if possible. They should do this until all of the below have been achieved:

  • No fever for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine that reduces fevers.
  • Symptoms have improved (e.g., cough or shortness of breath have improved).
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

LCPH is also recommending additional actions based on the below:

  • Statistically significant increase in new cases over 7 days AND one of the following:
  • Sustained 7-day increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 illness, OR
  • Reduction in hospital capacity (ICU capacity or medical-surgical beds under 20%). OR, test positivity rate greater than or equal to 8% over three consecutive days.

More information from Linn County Public Health on actions against the increase in COVID cases is- available HERE. Safety guidance HERE. Guidance for this fall and the holidays HERE.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference for today.