MUSCATINE, Iowa—Since Muscatine County had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 19, the eyes of the community have turned to Trinity Muscatine Public Health. Even before the outbreak reached Muscatine County, Public Health has worked on local preparedness efforts and will continue to coordinate them.
Director of Public Health Christy Roby Williams explained that over the last several weeks, Public Health has taken steps to prevent their workers from inadvertently spreading COVID-19 and to conserve the resources they have. Three weeks ago, Public Health suspended mobile health screenings in Cedar, Louisa, and Muscatine County. At their office in Muscatine, patients may still contact public health providers via phone and email, but only those needing certain services may come in by appointment only.
While Public Health has scaled back many services, they have increased the services they offer to coordinate the county’s response to COVID-19. “We’re offering constant consultations to our communities, leaders, and businesses on how to implement the guidelines from the Iowa Department of Public Health and CDC,” stated Williams. Along with advising businesses on how to keep workers safe in professions that cannot operate remotely, Public Health coordinates the collection and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and first responders, and educates the community about what they can do to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Right now, Roby identified collecting PPE and keeping the public informed as Public Health’s two largest foci. Currently, Public Health accepts donations of new surgical masks, N-95 masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, and tympanic (ear) thermometers, which they particularly need. They will also accept sewn masks, which people may place in a drop box in front of UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital.
She also stressed the importance of following current news from reliable sources, including the Iowa Department of Public Health. “Our team is working continuously to decipher the information coming into us from the Iowa Department of Public Health and getting it out to the public,” Williams said. “The Iowa Department of Public Health, CDC, and World Health Organization have a lot of very intelligent people making decisions based on the facts, not emotions,” she added.