COVID-19 Updates: Universities Go Online, Hospitals Limit Visitors

20 hours ago

March 11: COVID-19 patient is at the University of Iowa Hospital

The University of Iowa Hospital has confirmed that it is caring for a patient with COVID-19. Hospital officials say the patient is in isolation with other patients kept at a "safe distance" and properly protecting health care staff aiding the patient.

Officials said the patient is one of the 13 cases of COVID-19 identified in the state. The other 12 cases in Johnson and Pottawattamie counties are reported to be recovering at home in isolation.

"We may take additional steps, which may include visitor restrictions, and screening of those who are entering our hospital," said Theresa Brennan, chief medical officer of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

March 11: Many universities are switching to online classes

Iowa’s three public universities are planning to transition to online classes later this month to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa plan to suspend face-to-face instruction from March 23rd through at least April 3rd. 

The campuses will remain open, including residence and dining halls, though ISU is requiring students to register with the campus residence office if they need to return to residence halls right after spring break.

University of Iowa Provost Montserrat Fuentes said officials are going class by class to determine the best way to present them online.

"This is going to be a significant amount of work to get there, and we are going to work tirelessly to meet that goal so we know that everything is ready," Fuentes said. 

ISU Provost Jonathan Wickert said he is meeting with department heads and faculty to plan online classes.

"Many faculty are interested in what resources will be available to them to be able to move their class to an online format," said Wickert. "And we're reinforcing to them that we have staff available in our teaching center and in our information technology offices to assist them."

Director of Thielen Student Health Center, Erin Baldwin, was among those who spoke about ISU's plans to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus at a news conference Wednesday.
Credit Amy Mayer / IPR

Both the University of Iowa and ISU said they've suspend all university-sponsored international travel for 30 days.

The University of Iowa will recall all students studying abroad in Spain, France and Germany and expects them to be back by next Monday.

Also, Drake University in Des Moines says it will also deliver all courses remotely between March 23rd and April 3rd.  Drake says it’s urging all students to stay home for the two weeks following spring break, though residence and dining halls will remain open.  

Drake also plans to cancel most on-campus events beginning this Saturday through April 5th.  Events happening beyond that period – such as the Drake Relays and commencement – are expected to continue.

March 11: Hospitals are limiting visitors

The Polk County Health Department said it is limiting visitors at all Des Moines area hospitals.

Visitors are currently limited to primary caregivers such as parents, guardians, spouses or partners at least 16 years old.

The department has asked that all visitors limit movement in facilities, avoid common areas and do not have any symptoms. Visitors will also be required to wash their hands before entering and exiting the room.

UnityPoint Health has also announced that its hospitals in Waterloo, Marshalltown, Grundy Center and Sumner are also limiting patient visits to just two people, who must be at least 18 years old.

March 11: Blood supplies are short

LifeServe Blood Center, which supplies blood to more than 100 hospitals in Iowa and neighboring states said concerns about the coronavirus are having some effect on the blood supply. 

The organization says donor turnout has declined and some mobile blood drives have been canceled.  It’s urging healthy, eligible blood donors to consider donating. 

"Since only healthy blood donors are eligible to give blood, we believe a blood drive or donor center is a safe place to visit and is necessary to ensure blood will be available for local hospital patients," said Christine Hayes, Chief Operating Officer for LifeServe Blood Center, in a statement.

LifeServe staff have begun asking potential donors if they’ve recently traveled to any of the countries considered a risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It said there have been no transmissions of the novel coronavirus through blood transfusions.

March 11: New case of COVID-19

Iowa health officials say there’s one new positive case of the 2019 novel coronavirus in the state.  The Department of Public Health said the new case is an older adult between the ages of 61 and 80.  This person lives in Johnson County and was on the same Egyptian cruise on which 12 other Iowans contracted the COVID-19 illness.  Also today, previous cases identified as “presumptive positive” have now been confirmed positive by the Centers for Disease Control.  Iowa now has 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19.  

March 10: Grinnell College switches to online classes

Grinnell College is switching to online classes through the end of the spring semester and telling students to move off of campus by March 23. 

March 10: Iowa Identifies Five More COVID-19 Cases Linked To Egypt Cruise

State officials identified five more cases of COVID-19 Tuesday evening, bringing the total number of Iowans who tested presumptively positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus to 13. 

The five new cases are in Johnson County, and all of the individuals went on the same recent Egyptian cruise as the people in the seven other cases in that county. 

March 9: Iowa Health Officials Have Confirmed Eight Cases Of COVID-19

Iowa health officials have identified five additional "presumptive positive" cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. This brings the total cases to eight in Iowa.

Four of the new cases are in Johnson County are in adults between the ages of 60 and 81 years. They were on the same Egyptian cruise as the three cases that were previously identified. This brings the total number of cases in Johnson County to seven.

The other newly identified case is of a middle-aged adult between 41 and 60 who lives in Pottawattamie County and had recently traveled to California.

March 8: Iowa's First Three Coronavirus Cases Detected In Johnson County

Iowa’s first three presumptive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been detected in Johnson County, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Sunday.

All three individuals were on a cruise in Egypt. Two of them are older adults between the ages of 61 and 80, and one is middle-aged, between the ages of 41 and 60. Reynolds said none of them required hospitalization, and they are “self-quarantined at home.”