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Two Iowans Undergoing Testing For Coronavirus

Two Iowans are undergoing testing for the coronavirus after being identified as a potential risk by the state Department of Public Health.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says it has identified two people in the state who are undergoing evaluation and testing for the coronavirus. 

State medical director Caitlin Pedati said in a press conference on Facebook Live Wednesday afternoon that the two people are in isolation and are being tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The results are expected back in a few days, she said. 

"To be clear, we do not yet have a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Iowa," Pedati said. "We have identified two individuals who are being evaluated for that illness, but we have not yet identified a confirmed case." 

Pedati said the department has been following federal recommendations for screening individuals who may have come in contact with the virus.

The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China. It has infected more than 24,000 people worldwide, mostly in Asia.  There have been 12 confirmed cases in the U.S., including one in Wisconsin and two in Illinois.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds discussed the coronavirus at a press conference Thursday.

"I want to assure you that the risk to Iowa remains low, but as with any kind of public health emergency, we need to be prepared to respond should the global situation change," Reynolds said. 

Pedati said Iowa residents who have traveled to China in the past two weeks and have become sick with fever or respiratory or breathing problems should contact their doctor. And she said health care providers with patients who have those characteristics should contact the Iowa Department of Public Health. 

Pedati also encourages everyone to wash their hands, cover their mouth when coughing, and stay home from school and work when sick. She said the flu is still circulating, and it has killed 18 Iowans this season.

This story was updated on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 2:55 p.m. to include Gov. Reynolds' comments. 

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter
Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter