Leaders in many of Iowa’s rural communities are planning for worst-case scenarios with the spread of the coronavirus.
Don Kass, chair of the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors, applauds the governor’s latest efforts to halt the spread by closing restaurants, bars, casinos, theaters and fitness clubs, and prohibiting gatherings of more than ten people.
“What we’re trying to avoid through all of these measures is to avoid a rapid infection of the public,” Kass says. “Let’s say 50% of the public gets exposed to or becomes ill with the COVID-19 virus in a condensed amount of time, say within two weeks to a month. Should that happen, our hospitals and our medical staff will be overwhelmed.”
Plymouth County has a population of around 25,000, but the community hospital, Floyd Valley Healthcare in Le Mars, only has 25 beds. “You have to remember, we still have women having babies and people getting cancer treatments and people having surgeries at the hospital who need the hospital beds as we speak,” Kass says. “If we don’t tamp down the rate of infection of COVID-19 everywhere, then those beds will fill rather rapidly and we’ll have people in need of the hospital who won’t have a bed to go to.”
While items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper are in very short supply, Kass urges all Iowans to stop hoarding and stop the panic buying. “Because that’s not going to help anybody and that’s going to create issues in the supply chain, later on, that’ll create bigger problems,” Kass says. “The key thing is, we get through this with as little damage to the economy and to the health of our citizens as possible.”
Being a lifelong livestock producer, Kass says he understands how quickly a virus can spread. While some criticize state officials of going overboard with their precautions of shutting down schools and businesses, Kass says people simply need to do the math to see what potential dangers are lurking.
(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)