Ringgold County Hospital, an affiliate of MercyOne, continues to closely monitor the international situation concerning COVID-19. COVID-19, originally referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV), recently discovered in Wuhan, China. Cases of COVID-19 are appearing across the globe, and we are monitoring the virus to help keep our communities healthy.

At Ringgold County Hospital, we are following guidance provided by the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health to screen patients for symptoms including fever and respiratory signs as well as the patient’s travel history and exposure to those who have traveled. If a person is found to have symptoms and travel history, Ringgold County Hospital will isolate the patient and alert the Iowa Department of Public Health to coordinate testing. 

If you begin to experience symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, call your primary care provider before coming in.

What are COVID-19 symptoms?
Coronaviruses are respiratory, meaning most people who have a Coronavirus will have a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, and fever. 

In 80% of patients, COVID-19 causes only mild cold symptoms. The elderly, and those with pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to the virus.

If you begin to experience symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, call your primary care provider (contact Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic at 641-464-4470) before coming in.

How do people get Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, similar to the flu – through the air from a cough or sneeze of someone who has the virus.

It may be possible a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object which has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

How can we prevent the spread of COVID-19?
To help prevent the spread of all viruses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Should we wear facemasks to prevent COVID-19?
The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like grocery stores and pharmacies. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. Learn more about cloth face masks.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community:

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Wear a facemask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
  • Monitor your symptoms

10 ways to manage respiratory symptoms at home – print instructions

Additional Information
More information about the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa can be found on an IDPH website dedicated to the outbreak. Iowans can also call 2-1-1 to get answers to questions about COVID-19. The hotline is staffed 24/7. For the latest CDC guidelines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.