Atlantic, IA—Cass County Public Health is deeply saddened to announce the first death associated with novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for a resident of Cass County. “We extend our heartfelt sympathy to this individual’s family,” said Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen. “We know this is a difficult time for them, and we honor their right to privacy. The only details about the patient we are able to disclose is the age range, which is 61-80.”

“We continue to work daily with key stakeholders in the county and state to limit the spread of COVID-19, so that we can decrease its impact on our residents, families, businesses, and everyday life. Our call to action and plea to every Iowan is still the same; we need everyone’s help in practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and staying home when ill so that we can hasten the end of this pandemic.”

All residents should:

For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit or the IDPH webpage at


Atlantic, IA—Cass County Health System (CCHS) officials announced today that two employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are happy to say that our employees are only experiencing mild symptoms right now, and we expect and hope that both get well soon,” said CCHS Chief Executive Officer Brett Altman.

The employees contracted COVID-19 from sources outside of CCHS. The employees are isolating at home until they are considered recovered in accordance with the recovery criteria from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

While the staff members were always appropriately masked and protected while near patients, CCHS officials felt it was necessary to go above and beyond the current contact tracing procedures to notify any patients who were cared for by these staff members, as well as to inform the community of these new cases.

“We had five patients who received care from these employees. In our investigation, we found that there was no significant risk to the patients because of our use of PPE (personal protective equipment) – gloves, masks, and proper hand hygiene were properly observed. Yet, when we put ourselves in the shoes of the patients and their families, we felt like the right thing to do was to tell them,” said CCHS Chief Nursing Officer Amanda Bireline. CCHS officials have spoken with the patients who were impacted.

In alignment with IDPH guidance, CCHS is also keeping home other staff members who worked in close contact with the employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. This is a precautionary safety measure put into practice by CCHS to minimize the risk of spreading the illness.

“All along, we have been planning and preparing for the day when COVID-19 started to impact our community and staff. Without a doubt now, we’re at that point where there are real implications, and this likely won’t be the only impact on our workforce. We have an excellent team in place to strategize how we continue to safely care for patients, families, and the communities we are privileged to serve, but we still need everyone’s help to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Altman.

Bireline added, “Despite these positive cases, we feel that there is no additional risk to our patients or the patients that we served at the time. We acted quickly to isolate the cases, and we are monitoring and testing the exposed staff members.”

All patients and visitors at CCHS are screened at the entrance for fever and COVID-19 symptoms, and everyone in the facility is masked. CCHS also maintains a COVID-19 hotline for questions and concerns, as well as a Respiratory Care Clinic to serve patients with any respiratory symptoms that is in a designated space away from other patients.

As part of the effort to expand COVID-19 testing across the state, Test Iowa will open three new clinic sites next week including a site in Atlantic.

The Atlantic site will be operated by Cass County Health System. All Test Iowa tests are performed as a drive-thru service on the northwest side of 1500 East 10th Street.

Individuals who wish to get tested at the Test Iowa site must follow these steps:

You will receive an email from Test Iowa with a link to your test results as soon as they are ready. The information will be sent to the email address you provided when answering the survey.

Clinic sites are partnerships between the State of Iowa and local health care providers to increase access to testing in their communities. Clinics operate and staff the test sites. The state provides testing supplies and processes the samples through the State Hygienic Lab.

Locations and hours of operation for all test sites can be found at or More information about testing at the Atlantic site can be found at

Test Iowa Drive-Thru Map

Atlantic, IA — COVID-19 testing continues across the state of Iowa at healthcare facilities, Test Iowa, and some other locations. As testing becomes more widely available, there are some common questions and answers that officials at Cass County Health System (CCHS) would like to address for our community.

I don’t have any symptoms, but I want to be tested. What are my options?
Individuals who have no symptoms, but would like to be tested should take the online assessment for Test Iowa at Individuals with symptoms should call their healthcare provider’s office before going to any healthcare facility.

Is CCHS testing people for COVID-19? Can I get tested at CCHS?
CCHS continues to test patients for COVID-19. As of May 29, we have tested more than 380 individuals. At CCHS, we will continue to test people while also monitoring our supplies, such as swabs, test kits, and PPE. Some of our tests are sent to the state hygienic lab, some are sent to Mayo Clinic, and a limited number are done on site for specific patients.

Can I have all of my employees tested for COVID-19 at CCHS?
At this time, CCHS does not have the capacity to test large groups of asymptomatic people. Additionally, mass testing of asymptomatic people would have to be done frequently to be effective. Because of national PPE shortages and difficulties securing the necessary supplies for testing, CCHS has to be judicious in our use of tests to ensure that we have what we need for the most critically ill patients or in case of any local outbreaks. As testing supplies become more readily available, we may revisit our testing criteria.

If I get a negative test result, then that means I am in the clear, right?
Not necessarily. Tests are a snapshot in time. You could be exposed to COVID-19 in the morning, tested in the afternoon, get a negative result, and then develop symptoms several days later at which point you would test positively.

Why are the test numbers from CCHS different than what is reported on
CCHS testing numbers can be different from what is reported on for several reasons. For example, someone who lives in Elk Horn might be tested at CCHS. If they have a positive result, then their positive result would show on the state map for Shelby County, not Cass, and it would also show as a positive number on CCHS results. Additionally, as public testing increases through private businesses or Test Iowa sites, Cass County residents may be tested out of the county. Those tests would not be included on CCHS testing results, but would be compiled into the results for Cass County.

What about blood tests? Will an antibody test show whether or not I have already had COVID-19?
There are numerous limitations of these tests, and there are many concerns about their accuracy. There may be a very limited number of situations where serology (antibody) testing may be recommended. We encourage you to speak with your primary care provider about whether or not this testing is appropriate.

Atlantic, IA —Cass County Health System officials have updated the visitor limitations that are now in effect at all CCHS facilities. These measures are being enacted to protect the health of patients, staff, volunteers, and visitors and to proactively limit the spread of COVID-19.

Effective as of May 18, 2020

All visitors will be screened at the entrance before being allowed to proceed. Visitors must wear a mask and practice social distancing in waiting rooms. If there are too many visitors in the waiting room to appropriately social distance, then staff will ask visitors to please wait in their vehicles or return at a later time.

All visitors, family members, and friends are still encouraged to use technology to keep in contact with their loved ones.

Atlantic, IA – COVID-19 is a new virus and many Cass County residents aren’t sure how to know if they have been infected, and if they have, what they should do about it. With so much information available on the internet, and not all of it accurate, Cass County Public Health reminds residents the statewide COVID-19 information line is available at 2-1-1 to answer these kinds of questions.

“We are learning more about COVID-19 each day,” said Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen. “We want to provide the most accurate information we have to help slow the spread of the virus in our county and protect our most vulnerable residents.” Here are some of the most frequent questions public health has received:

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to another infected individual. Other symptoms include chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.

What should I do if I have these symptoms?

It’s important to know that 80% of people who get COVID-19 will have mild to moderate illness – similar to a bad cold, and some people may not have any symptoms. If you feel mildly ill, take these steps:

Who should be tested?

To learn if you have a current infection, viral tests are used. But not everyone needs this test. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first. You can also take an online assessment at to see if you qualify for testing at a Test Iowa site.

If you test positive for COVID-19 by a viral test, follow the instructions given to you by your healthcare provider. Cass County Public Health will also call you for the purposes of contact tracing, to investigate who you were in close contact with recently so that those individuals can be notified and self-isolate to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.

If you test negative, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing.

Are people in Cass County being tested for COVID-19?

Yes. As of May 14, there have been 236 people tested at Cass County Health System. People may also be tested at other medical facilities, at a Test Iowa site, or at long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

Are other counties testing more than Cass County?

By looking at the available data from, as well as what is being reported at the county level, Cass County’s testing rates are comparable or slightly higher than other counties that have low levels of positive cases. Some counties have much higher testing numbers because of surveillance testing being done due to an outbreak at a meat packing plant or long-term care facility, or because they have a Test Iowa site.

Now that things are reopening, do I still need to wear a mask? I’m not sick.

Yes. We encourage you to wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, and practice social distancing—keeping at least 6 feet of distance between people—whenever possible. Wearing a mask helps keep your germs away from others, which is really key to preventing spread because some people who get COVID-19 never develop symptoms but can still spread it to others. By wearing a mask, you’re demonstrating concern for those around you. The other advantage to wearing a mask is that it keeps you from touching your face. By keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, you are decreasing your risk of infection. Remember to wash or sanitize your hands before wearing and after removing your mask, too.

Where can I get a mask?

Cass County Public Health has some cloth masks that we are a happy to give to those who need one. Our office is located at 1408 East 10th Street, which is just across the street from the employee parking lot at CCHS. There are also sewing and no-sew instructions on if you want to make your own.

What are N95 masks? Should I get one and wear it?

An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit. The N95 designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95% of very small particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. For the general public, an N95 isn’t necessary because without proper fit testing, the respirator may not be as effective as intended. Even health care workers generally only use an N95 respirator during certain procedures; the rest of the time they would wear a standard surgical mask. And remember, wearing a mask is about keeping your germs away from others, so wearing any mask and practicing social distancing is the best way to protect those around you.

Who is at most risk for serious complications of COVID-19?

Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

If you have additional questions, call the 2-1-1 COVID-19 information line. For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the IDPH webpage at and follow the department on Facebook at @IowaDepartmentOfPublicHealth and on Twitter at @IAPublicHealth.

Atlantic, IA – Cass County Public Health reminds residents that although they are spending more time away from friends and family because of social distancing, state, county and local leaders recognize and appreciate the vital role they serve in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“This unprecedented time is not easy,” said Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen. “We want everyone to know that the actions they are taking—staying away from groups of people and keeping a 6-foot distance from other individuals—are important and make a difference.” These actions, known as social distancing, help stop the spread of COVID-19.

While physical health is a primary focus now, mental health should also be a priority. “Spending most of your time at home means more television and social media, and that often means an overload of information about COVID-19. People may feel lonely and anxious. This is normal, but there are steps we can take to help these non-physical results of COVID-19,” said Olsen.

Cass County Public Health thanks all the local businesses, schools, essential service workers, health care providers, coalitions, churches and individuals for doing their part during this COVID-19 pandemic.

As a reminder, all residents should:

Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever (100 or greater) and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should call your health care provider before going into the office. The provider may have special instructions for you, and will determine if you should be tested.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the IDPH webpage at and follow the department on Facebook at @IowaDepartmentOfPublicHealth and on Twitter at @IAPublicHealth.

April 23, 2020

Atlantic, IA— On April 12, it was announced that a case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) had been confirmed in Cass County. Cass County Public Health is happy to announce that the patient has recovered.

“With his permission, we’re happy to report that Cass County resident John Stokes has recovered from COVID-19,” said Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen. “In late March, John traveled out of state and then arrived home in Cass County about two weeks ago. When his symptoms worsened, he sought care in a safe way.”

When asked about his experience at Cass County Health System, John said, “The folks at the hospital were angels. They were very caring, very comforting. Even when they had to check on me during the middle of the night, they were very gentle, very kind. From Paul, the nurse practitioner, to all of the nurses, straight down to the kitchen. They were all very patient. And the food was fantastic!”

When John was discharged from CCHS, a small group of staff lined the hallways to celebrate his recovery and return home.

“I felt I should have been the one applauding. They were the ones taking the risk, because I already had it. They were the ones still risking a lot to help me, to heal me.”

And now, John is at home and looking forward to the future. “Keep the faith,” said John.

Many residents may be wondering if they were potentially exposed to COVID-19 through John. “Through our investigation, we didn’t find any significant risk to the public,” said Beth. “If we had, we would contact individuals one-on-one. In this case, that wasn’t necessary.”

While this case is over, it is still important for residents to continuing making prevention their first priority. “We don’t want people to gain a false sense of security and ease up on their social distancing practices or other preventive measures. We know that COVID-19 is widespread in the state, and we all have a role to play in minimizing the spread here in Cass County,” said Beth.

All residents should:

Approximately 80% of Iowans infected with COVID-19, will experience only a mild to moderate illness. Most mildly ill Iowans do not need to go to their healthcare provider or be tested to confirm they have COVID-19. Sick Iowans must stay home and isolate themselves from others in their house. Stay home and isolate from others in the house until:



If you think you may need healthcare, call first. Your provider can assess whether you need to be seen in the office or if you can recover at home. Atlantic Medical Center, RHC offers telehealth appointments that can be used for some patients.

Atlantic, IA—As of today, April 13, there is one case of COVID-19 in Cass County. Cass County Public Health continues to work closely with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and other state and local partners to respond to this ongoing pandemic.

“When cases of COVID-19 first began being reported in Iowa, they were related to travel outside the state,” said Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen. “Now, however, there is widespread community transmission across the state. This means the virus is spreading from person-to-person, and often without known contact with a positive case.”

Iowa Code Chapter 22 prohibits the release of information that could lead to the identification of an individual or facility. Cass County Public Health is following Iowa law by not releasing information such as the town where an individual lives. Some states have different confidentiality laws; regardless, information related to where an individual lives or has visited is not essential in protecting the public’s health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 is circulating widely in the state. A resident’s chance of being exposed to the virus is high, regardless of contact with a confirmed case. This is why all residents are advised to stay home as much as possible, and when they must leave for essential errands like groceries or to get medication, they maintain a 6-foot distance from other individuals and avoid groups of people. This is because the risk of exposure to the virus is NOT limited to exposure to a known case; you could just as easily be exposed to an undiagnosed individual who is at the grocery store.

You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the IDPH webpage at and follow the department on Facebook at @IowaDepartmentOfPublicHealth and on Twitter at @IAPublicHealth.

The Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund granted funds to Cass County Public Health for the purpose of purchasing and delivering food to self-isolating individuals due to COVID-19.

“We have a number of volunteers and organizations partnering together to make sure all people who are isolating at home in Cass County will have access to food and food delivery. Our main goal is to keep everyone home and fed, no matter the income level,” commented Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen.

Individuals should contact Cass County Public Health Monday through Friday at 712-243-7443 with questions or for grocery and delivery needs.

“Some people may be able to pay in full for their groceries, but they need help with ordering and delivery. Or, some people may be able to only pay for a portion of their grocery needs. We’re happy to help in any way that we can,” said Olsen. “We want to thank all of the community members who have been already helping out, and we’re thankful for this grant that will support Cass County residents.”

The Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund is a partnership between the Iowa West Foundation, Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, and Council Bluffs Schools Foundation.