State officials are asking Iowans who’ve recently been in areas where Covid-19 cases have spread to “self-isolate” for 14 days. Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state medical director, says that means avoiding close personal contact with other people.

“Staying home from work and school, not attending sort of large gatherings or group events,” Pedati says.

This is advice for Iowans who’ve recently been in China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

“If you’re somebody who has traveled to one of those locations, we want…to recommend that you voluntarily monitor your symptoms and isolate at home,” Pedati says.

Pedati describes self-isolation as trying to stay at least six feet away from other people.

“To reduce the opportunity for a virus to move from one person to another,” she says, “and that’s something that would work when we’re talking about the flu or a variety of other viruses.”

Pedati and other public health officials have been reaching out to Iowa schools and businesses, urging them to call with concerns about absences that may be related to Covid-19 or other illnesses like the flu.

“One of the things that Public Health does is we work very closely with partners throughout the state and where people might be getting sick,” Pedati says, “so surveillance activities like that are typically multi-layers and they require input from a variety of sources.”

The state operates a 24/7 hotline that doctors, nurses and others in the medical community may call with questions about dianosing Covid-19. The State Hygenic Lab in Iowa City has begun testing for Covid-19.

“The total turn-around time for that is probably approximately 24 hours depending on where in the state we need to ship samples from,” Dr. Pedati says. “The test itself to run takes approximately four hours.”

There have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Iowa.