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COVID-19 outbreak declared at St. Francis Manor with 28 cases

St. Francis Manor in Grinnell is the site of a new COVID-19 outbreak in Grinnell. Photo by Jackson Schulte.

Poweshiek County Public Health has confirmed that St. Francis Manor, a long-term care facility in Grinnell, has 28 cases of COVID-19. The announcement comes as the state of Iowa has reported 3,748 cases of COVID-19 amidst a spike in the number of cases in the last week. As of April 22, 2020, there are 37 cases in Poweshiek County.


According to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s classification system, St. Francis Manor is now the site of an outbreak. The IDPH defines an outbreak as when three or more residents of a long-term care facility have been diagnosed with COVID-19.


The S&B spoke with Poweshiek County Director of Public Health, Shauna Callaway to discuss how the county plans to handle COVID-19 and what she hopes residents will do moving forward. Grinnell Regional Medical Center and St. Francis Manor could not be reached for comment.


Shauna Callaway is the Poweshiek County Director of Public Health. Contributed Photo.

How did St. Francis Manor realize that they had an outbreak and that they needed more testing?


Well, the numbers are there, at this point. Obviously the state has deemed it an outbreak. We know we have community spread throughout the state, and most counties have a number of cases. As symptoms developed throughout the [St. Francis] community, then they met the state criteria for testing.


Do you have any recommendations for Poweshiek County residents moving forward?


Similar to what we’ve been doing, still, as far as we know we’re certainly still peaking at this time. We’re still seeing our cases rise. In Poweshiek we’re not sure when we’ll peak. We just want to not let up on those social isolation guidelines at all. Certainly in our vulnerable populations, we certainly want to make alternate arrangements. If groceries can be delivered, good hygiene, wearing a mask… The best thing we can do is self-isolate and avoid being in public areas if at all possible.


You mentioned wearing a mask. It may not be a state requirement, but do you recommend that all Poweshiek County residents wear a mask in public?


Yeah, what a mask is gonna do is not keep you from getting something. There’s no filter in there, but what it does is helps protect others. It keeps you from in conversation with somebody, it really is protecting others.


Do you think the hospital is prepared for a rise in cases in the county?


They are continuing to have preparation meetings. If the hospital was to surge or have an abundance of cases that need hospitalization–they’re continuing to get ready for that to happen. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. They’re continuing to monitor that situation and monitor their PPE. … I don’t want to speak on their behalf, though.

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