Veterans Memorial Hospital Community and Home Care Public Health Office has reported inquiries from many businesses who are concerned about having enough staff to keep their offices open to the public with the two week of mandated quarantine time for all exposures to COVID-19.
Lisa Moose, Director of Veterans Memorial Hospital Community and Home Care, is advising businesses and schools to follow the Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines and wear a mask to avoid being quarantined.
“A few weeks ago, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced that if both parties were wearing face masks during a close contact of 6 feet or less for 15 minutes or more, then neither has to quarantine,” states Moose. “We are telling all businesses and service agencies to wear their masks and ask all those entering to wear them as well. That way even if one does test positive later on, the other does not have to quarantine since masks were used. This simple, responsible act can save so many precious days of quarantine and keep businesses staffed and open. But the key is that BOTH must wear masks at all times. And of course the one that does test positive must isolate.”
The Iowa Department of Public Health made the following changes to these recommendations for people who have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 in late September:
- Close contacts of COVID-positive cases will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days IF a face covering was consistently worn by BOTH people during the exposure.
- Any type of face covering is acceptable. However, a face shield is NOT considered a face covering and quarantine is still required if one or both people were wearing a face shield only.
- A mask worn by both parties is not recognized if in the healthcare setting such as hospitalization or in the home setting.
“We have seen so many, many cases of exposures and quarantine in our county that could have been prevented if both parties just simply wore a mask,” adds Sheryl Darling-Mooney, Public Health Supervisor. “We have seen students miss weeks of school even though they had their mask on, but since not all students did, they still had to quarantine. It’s so important that everyone wears a mask. As the saying goes, ‘I wear my mask for you and you wear yours for me.’ We still need to social distance, but wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces and staying home as much as possible is what’s best. If you don’t move, the virus can’t move.”
Veterans Memorial Hospital Community and Home Care Public Health also wants to emphasize the importance of wearing face coverings consistently and correctly, with it covering both the nose and mouth. Other recommendations such as social distancing, staying home when sick, and frequently washing or disinfecting hands continue to be important practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.