COVID - 19 Letter to Community

March 5, 2020

To the Clarke County Community:

Every day we are hearing more and more about the Coronavirus, specifically COVID-19.  When some of us hear about it, the situation sounds far removed from Osceola, IA.  When others of us hear about it, there is concern about how it will impact each of us.  We hope that COVID-19 never reaches Clarke County but if it does, we will be prepared… hopefully over prepared.  Let me share with you what we’re working on and how this may impact you.

In response to the potential threat of the COVID – 19 virus (2019 Novel Coronavirus), Clarke County Hospital has activated the “Incident Command Team”.  The CCH Team includes employees from different facets of facility operation and safety, patient care, communication, and administration.  Also included on the team are representatives from Clarke County Public Health and Clarke County Emergency Management.  

The Incident Command Team is approaching the response to the COVID – 19 virus by implementing training and educational opportunities for Hospital staff, by communicating up to date information to the community, and by thinking through various scenarios and situations that may (or may not) occur.  The Incident Command Team is actively addressing logistical measures to make sure our patients, our staff, and our community is prepared for the potential arrival of COVID – 19 to Clarke County.  We are also establishing various communication networks to help us share information that we are receiving to individuals and businesses in our community.

Let me first share with you what we are focusing on from a communication standpoint.  First and foremost, we want to keep each of you up to date on what is happening with COVID-19 and how we are preparing.  This is the first of several communications that you’ll receive from the Hospital over the next couple of weeks sharing new or changing information.  We are sharing information for public dissemination to the newspaper, radio, our web site, and television if they’d like to talk with us.  We’re reaching out to businesses, the schools, community groups such as Rotary, Osceola Chamber Main Street and Senior Center and have developed FAQ sheets to share with whomever will listen to us.  Working with Clarke County Public Health and Clarke County Emergency Management, we are able to reach more citizens as well as police, fire and sheriff offices.  We believe that the more information you have about the disease, the less fear there will be related to the disease. 

A few weeks ago Hospital registration staff instituted a patient travel assessment that, in conjunction with symptom evaluation, will help guide our response to a possible influenza or COVID – 19 infection.  If coughing or running a fever, patients are asked to wear a mask when at the Hospital seeking treatment.  A patient will screen positive for being at risk of COVID – 19 if they answer yes to the following questions:

1)      Fever or respiratory signs or symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath


2)      Travel to affected geographical areas in the 14 days prior to the onset of signs or symptoms


3)     Close contact with a person known or suspected to have COVID – 19 in the 14 days prior to the onset of signs or symptoms.

If a patient answers “yes”, they are at risk for COVID – 19.  It does NOT mean that they have the virus.  From there, the local and state health department will be notified and will determine if there is a need to perform further testing.

There are things all Clarke County residents can do to help prevent the spread of all viruses, including influenza and COVID-19.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper arm/elbow
  • Clean your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Contain germs by staying home when ill

Currently, there are no known patients infected with COVID – 19 in Iowa.  The influenza virus remains our greatest health threat.  

Updates through the CDC and IDPH are occurring on a daily basis, and significant information will be forwarded to staff and the community by CCH.  My goal in this readiness exercise is to over prepare for potential scenarios, with the hope that implementation of the action steps never occurs.  As we diligently prepare, please do your part to help prevent the spread of all viruses.

Thank you,

Brian Evans

CEO – Clarke County Hospital