As back-to-school season begins—whether that means in-person or virtual classes—parents and teachers must juggle many roles and many different concerns about students’ health. Protecting youth and young adults from the harms of using e-cigarettes is one important way you can help keep them healthy.

E-cigarette liquid that contains nicotine (the same addictive drug in other tobacco products like cigarettes) is unsafe for youth and young adults. Nicotine can harm brain development, and young people’s brains continue to develop up to about age 25. In 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General called it an epidemicexternal icon, meaning an outbreak of a health threat in a specific group of people.

To learn more, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/features/back-to-school/protecting-young-people-from-e-cigarettes/index.html

Source: Center for Disease Control

Mask Guidelines

Effective August 4, 2020, Keokuk County Health Center and Medical Clinic updated mask requirements. Below are the changes that will affect the community. Changes have also been put in place for staff.

  • Patients/visitors will continue to be screened upon entering the facility.
  • All patients/visitors over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask while in the facility.
  • We ask that you bring your own mask from home. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you.
  • Hospitalized patients will not be required to wear a mask while in their rooms.
  • Patients/visitors presenting to the ER or Inpatient department will be given a surgical/procedure mask while in the facility and are required to wear it while they remain in the facility.
  • Therapy and Cardiac Rehab patients please notify staff if wearing a mask will hinder your ability to work with staff.
  • Vendors will wear either a cloth or surgical/procedure mask while in the facility.

Thanks for your patience during this time. We are in this together!

Cleaning Cloth Masks

Washing machine

  • You can include your mask with your regular laundry.
  • Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the mask.

Washing by hand

  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) household bleach per gallon of room temperature water or
    • 4 teaspoons household bleach per quart of room temperature water
  • Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection. Some bleach products, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing, may not be suitable for disinfection. Ensure the bleach product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
  • Soak the mask in the bleach solution for 5 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water.
  • Completely dry mask after washing.

How to dry

Dryer: Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry.

Air dry: Lay flat and allow to completely dry. If possible, place the mask in direct sunlight.

SOURCE: www.cdc.gov; #stepupmaskupia

Iowa WIC Assistance

For Families Affected by Severe Weather

The Iowa Department of Public Health announces additional assistance for WIC families following the destruction of the August 10 derecho. Families living in the 16 counties designated under the federal disaster declaration are eligible.

“We understand families may be concerned about food lost during power outages. This assistance will help replace food supplies that were damaged,” said Jill Lange, IDPH Chief of the Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity.

WIC families currently receiving benefits and living in Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story and Tama counties can request to replace WIC foods. WIC foods purchased between the dates of August 1 and 10 and destroyed or spoiled as the result of storm damage or power outage may be replaced. Any WIC foods purchased after August 10 are not eligible for replacement. WIC families must contact their local WIC agency no later than August 31 to be considered for food replacement.

Visit the IDPH website at https://idph.iowa.gov/WIC for more information on WIC and to find local offices.

Coronavirus organism danger, biology macro, white background. Vector illustration

IDPH updates COVID-19 antigen test results following increased testing volume and new CDC guidance

Author: Alex Carfrae/Friday, August 28, 2020/Categories: IDPH NewsRate this article: 3.5

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is now reporting positive and negative antigen test results following a steadily increasing volume of the rapid-result tests across the state. 

While some states have chosen not to report antigen results, IDPH believes doing so will provide more complete information for Iowans. Updated data on coronavirus.iowa.gov now includes case counts for both PCR and antigen tests separately, and the combined total test results.

Antigen testing is a new type of COVID-19 diagnostic test that detects proteins on the surface of the virus and generates results faster than a PCR test, which detects the virus’s genetic material. PCR tests are considered the “gold standard” for clinical diagnosis of COVID-19, and is the test used by the State Hygienic Lab and Test Iowa.  

On August 16, the CDC issued interim guidance for antigen testing, including regulatory requirements, collection and handling of specimens, and evaluation of results. 

According to the CDC, the sensitivity of rapid antigen tests is generally lower than PCR tests, and clinical performance depends on the circumstances in which they are used. Antigen tests can be helpful for individuals tested in the early stages of infection when viral load is generally highest, or for known exposures to a confirmed case of COVID-19. They can also be used in high-risk congregate settings in which repeat testing could quickly identify positive cases to inform infection prevention and control measures, and prevent further transmission.

Currently in Iowa, antigen testing is being used in long-term care facilities, health care clinics, retail pharmacies and by a variety of other testing providers. 

Antigen testing accounts for just 1.8% of all COVID-19 tests in Iowa at this time, but use of the test is increasing and expected to continue. 

To date, antigen tests have been included in Iowa’s total case count, but individual test results have been classified as “inconclusive” rather than as positive or negative cases. Now that more is known about antigen tests, negative and positive results are now included in the state’s COVID-19 case reporting and calculation of positivity. The inclusion of antigen tests results in minimal change to the state’s positivity rate.

Public health has been conducting case investigations and contact tracing for all positive test results, including both antigen and PCR tests. All individuals who test positive by PCR or antigen testing continue to be directed to quarantine for 10 days from the start of symptoms, have symptoms improving,  and be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to work, school or normal activities.  

IDPH will continue to adjust its reporting to include new technologies, test types and information as the COVID-19 response evolves.