Man coughing with text overlay that says COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Essential Information

March 12, 2020

** The text below was updated at 8:30 pm on March 13, 2020 with new testing guidelines shown in the bullet points.**

COVID-19: Essential Information from CCHS

Atlantic, IA — Cass County Health System officials are working diligently to prepare for the spread of COVID-19. At this phase, efforts are focused on prevention and mitigating the spread of the virus.

As of March 12, 2020, there are no cases in Iowa that have been contracted through community spread. All of the 14 positive cases are linked to travel; meaning the infected patients have all recently traveled outside of Iowa, then returned home and became symptomatic.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath that develop 2-14 days after exposure.  It is believed the virus spreads when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes and the droplets directly or indirectly infect another person at entry points such as eyes, nose, or mouth. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other seasonal illnesses like the flu or a cold, so just having symptoms does not mean you have the disease.

COVID-19 Testing

At this time, the only people who can be tested for COVID-19 are:

    • Hospitalized patients with fever and respiratory failure and no alternate diagnosis
    • Hospitalized older adults (>60 years of age) with fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing) and chronic medical conditions
    • Any persons (including healthcare providers) with household contact with a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to becoming ill with fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing)
    • Any persons with a history of international travel to a country with a Level 3 CDC travel health warning ( or have taken an international cruise in the 14 days prior to becoming ill with fever and respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing) and no alternate diagnosis

The need for COVID-19 testing will determined by the Iowa Department of Public Health in collaboration with your healthcare provider.

The testing itself is comprised of one nasal swab. The test samples are then sent to the State Hygienic Lab; results should be returned within 24 hours.

Care at Home & Care at Hospital

After testing, if an individual is ill, but in stable condition, they will be sent home. Similar to home treatment for a cold or flu, the ill patient should self-isolate and treat symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Individuals with COVID-19 should stay home until they are symptom-free for 72 hours.

If the ill individual needs a higher level of care, the care team at CCHS will determine the appropriate next steps.


We encourage all patients to keep their scheduled appointments and to seek medical care when needed. If you develop respiratory infection symptoms, like fever, cough, or shortness of breath, then please call your provider’s office BEFORE you come to any CCHS facility.

Additional Resources

For up-to-date information on COVID-19, CCHS encourages the public to rely on official sources of information including the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization. Links to these resources can be found on

Hotline for Questions

The public can call 211 for more information. A local hotline for a recorded message of testing criteria is available at 712-243-7479.

Visitor Policy & Recommendations

The public is advised to not come to Cass County Health System unless:

  • They are here for an appointment, AMC Rapid Care, or care in the Emergency Department.
  • They are an essential support person for an inpatient, and are over the age of 18 and in good health.

What You Can Do

  • It is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and IDPH recommends getting the flu vaccine. Influenza activity is widespread in Iowa and as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to receive the vaccine.
  • Prepare your business and home in case of illness or closures. The Iowa Department of Public Health website includes planning resources for business and individuals.
  • On social media and in person, help spread information from reputable sources only.


  • CDC does not recommend face masks for the general public.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth with your upper arm or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Immediately discard tissues into the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.