Test Iowa site expected in Dickinson County
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 ~ Updated 3:14 PM
Details have yet to be hammered out, but Zach Borus, a physician with Lakes Regional Healthcare in Spirit Lake, said Dickinson County may be home to a Test Iowa site as soon as next week. Borus made the announcement Wednesday in one of the hospital's regular video messages to the public. He said the Test Iowa site will likely be a drive-thru set up located at the Dickinson County Expo Building in Spirit Lake. The site, part of a state program aimed at increased testing for COVID-19 among Iowa's population, will be a partnership between LRH, Dickinson County Public Health, the county and the state, according to Borus.
"For people who have no symptoms — who have known or presumed exposure — that will be a way for you to get tested quickly free out of pocket and increased access," Borus said.
However, he said if an individual is experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should still be seen in person by a health professional.
"Our expectation is that if you are having symptoms that you still call the respiratory clinic because we want to get you taken care of and get you evaluated," Borus said. "Sometimes the illness can be more significant than it feels initially. So we want to get you checked out."
Dickinson County's total cases of COVID-19 had risen to 166 by the time LRH released the video message — 142 were reported this month alone. The Iowa Department of Public Health listed 53 individuals as having recovered from the respiratory virus, and a single Dickinson County resident has died due to COVID-19 so far.
"Numbers are rising," Borus said, adding he expects the trend to continue as local testing increases. "We still see a lot of folks from out of town and a lot of folks who live here who are still not following, really, many of the recommended guidelines. Our governor has taken away all legal restrictions on gathering at this point and on capacity at bars, restaurants, houses of worship, theaters, etc., so I think we're seeing a little bit of a free-for-all, which certainly concerns many of us."
Borus said most of the county's cases continue to be among the 20-40 year old population — a trend most of the state is experiencing — and most in that population will either show minimal symptoms or none at all.
"When those people then get their moms or dads or grandparents sick because they're in close contact, that's where things get worrisome to me, and where I think we're going to see a lot more numbers in the hospital and unfortunately a lot of people become more ill," Borus said.
Borus said LRH has been fortunate so far that no positive cases have been reported among the inpatient population, but he said the hospital is fully capable of handling them in terms of talent, supplies and isolation rooms.
"At the same time, we have had a few people from Dickinson County, including the person who unfortunately passed away, who have gone to Sioux Falls, (South Dakota), because of their level of illness and the availability of ICU beds there," Borus said. "So, it's here, and it's just a matter of time."
The doctor urged the public to continue limiting their exposure to other people, staying at least 6 feet away from individuals whenever possible, wearing cloth face masks in public and washing hands frequently.
"My hope is that people use this as an opportunity to really think about what they're doing and perhaps not tie up with another 30 boats in Millers Bay this weekend," Borus said. "Get out there, anchor, have fun with your family or a small friend group, but please don't all come together."