Influenza-Like Illness Map for week ending February 15, 2020

Kim Fineran, public health director of Crawford County Home Health, Hospice & Public Health, said the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) is low in Iowa and Crawford County.

“Across the state, Public Health is currently monitoring 27 people - and it’s important to stress that these people do not have symptoms,” Fineran said. “There have been zero cases of COVID-19 in Iowa and only 15 cases in the United States.”

No one has died from COVID-19 in the United States.

For a realistic look at where concerns should be placed, the above numbers should be contrasted with the numbers for this year’s flu season.

“In Iowa, in the last reporting week alone, Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) shows 76 flu hospitalizations and four deaths,” Fineran said.

One of the flu deaths in Iowa was a child.

“The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) influenza estimates for the United States are currently 26 million flu illnesses, 250,000 flu hospitalizations and 14,000 flu deaths,” she said.

Those numbers are not unusual, year to year, for the flu.

So far, COVID-19 has killed about 2,000 people, primarily in China.

“The flu claims far more lives than that every year,” Fineran said. “My main concern is making sure the citizens of Crawford County have the information they need to keep themselves healthy - and right now influenza is a bigger threat for our communities.”

Constant reporting in the media about COVID-19 is part of the reason for the fear seen among some members of the public, she said.

The same kinds of fears were raised with the H1N1 virus 10 years ago and Ebola six years ago, she pointed out.

“Everyone needs to remember that social media is not always a reliable source of information,” Fineran said. “Please make sure you’re getting your information from trusted resources such as the CDC or the IDPH. These are my primary sources of information when it comes to communicable diseases. They are the experts when it comes to disease outbreak and epidemiology.”

Crawford County Public Health works with the IDPH and Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) to make sure the county is well-prepared to respond to an exposure or illness, she said.

“The most important thing to remember now is to practice standard respiratory virus prevention, which includes washing your hands frequently with soap and water; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; cover coughs and sneezes with your upper arm, elbow or a tissue; and stay home when you are sick,” Fineran said.

It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine, she said. Contact your primary care provider or call Public Health at 712-263-3303.

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