First patient with community-acquired COVID-19 in Johnson County is being cared for by University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Media Statement - March 15, 2020

As announced by the governor tonight, Johnson County has seen its first patient to have COVID-19 from community-acquired transmission. That patient is currently in isolation in the care of University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City. This means that other patients are kept at a safe distance, and those caring for this individual are properly protected.

Community spread occurs when individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected.

The patient presented for emergency care with symptoms associated with COVID-19 and was then admitted to the hospital. The patient was masked upon arrival, per procedure, and staff members took appropriate precautions.

Safety protocols are based on the guidance of the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health, and our clinical experts.

“The fact that this is the first case of community-acquired COVID-19 in Johnson County reminds us of the seriousness of this illness and how our preparedness efforts must continue to protect our staff, patients, and community,” says Suresh Gunasekaran, MBA, chief executive officer of UI Hospitals & Clinics, and associate vice president for UI Health Care. “We remain confident in our preparedness for these patients. The health and safety of all of our patients and staff is our highest priority.” 

This is the second patient with COVID-19 to be admitted to UI Hospitals & Clinics.  

COVID-19 helpline

University of Iowa Health Care recently launched a new helpline staffed 24 hours a day/seven days a week to answer questions about influenza or 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) for health care professionals as well as members of the community. The helpline addresses topics such as:

  • Steps to prevent illness
  • How to keep workplaces, school, and communities safe
  • The latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Disease and the Iowa Department of Public Health
  • What UI Health Care is doing to address COVID-19

The helpline is not for urgent patient care needs. Anyone with signs or symptoms of the flu or COVID-19 are encouraged to call for a video visit with a UI Health Care provider.

  • For general COVID-19 information and questions: 1-319-384-8819
  • For patients with COVID-19 and flu symptoms: 1-319-384-9010
  • For emergencies: 911

Other UI Health Care resources for COVID-19

Video visits:

A video visit option is now available for patients with influenza-like symptoms or COVID-19 health concerns. Patients can schedule a video visit through their MyChart account or by calling 1-319-384-9010. Patients will be asked to download Vidyo, a secure video service used for these visits.

Screening clinics for influenza- and COVID-19:

Once a patient has been seen by a health care provider through a video visit they may be directed to a dedicated UI Health Care clinic for influenza or COVID-19 testing. These clinics safely and effectively evaluate patients and allow them to return home to wait for results.

We are committed to protecting the safety of our patients, staff, and visitors and continue to take appropriate steps, including visitor restrictions and screening of patients and visitors who enter the hospital. Currently, visitors are limited to one adult (age 18 and older and healthy) per patient per day in most circumstance, and two visitors per day per pediatric patient (who must be a parent or legal guardian).

Practice good hygiene:

  • Use a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
    Do not use your hands when coughing or sneezing to cover your mouth and nose.
  • Wash your hands often.
    Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Maintain a safe distance.
    Take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of getting ill.

Get up-to-date information on COVID-19.

Media contact:

Molly Rossiter
UI Health Care
Office: 1-319-384-8998
Cell: 1-319-241-7448