Kelly Garcia

A top administrator has confirmed six residents of a state-run facility for the disabled have tested positive for COVID-19. Iowa Department of Human Services director Kelly Garcia says three employees at the Woodward Resource Center also tested positive for the virus.

“With the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, we knew it would be a matter when, not if we had a confirmed positive in any of our six facilities,” Garcia says. “We’re doing everything we can to protect our team and those we serve.”

The Des Moines Register first reported these COVID-19 cases among residents and staff on the Woodward Resource Center campus. Garcia says a total of nine employees who work at five different state-run facilities have tested positive for the virus.

“Because of our policies, many of these employees were not on-site several days before they received a positive test, and most had no client interaction,” Garcia says.

All nine staffers are self-isolating and doing well, according to Garcia. Garcia says the residents who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 have been relocated to another home on the Woodward campus. Starting on March 13th, outside visitors were barred from the five state-run facilities Garcia’s agency manages. That includes the state training home for juvenile offenders in Eldora, the State Mental Health Institutes in Cherokee and Independence and the centers in Woodward and Glenwood for Iowans with profound mental and physical disabilities.

“Not dissimilar to long-term care facilities, our staff are in close contact with some of Iowa’s most vulnerable individuals,” Garcia says, “and we have undertaken significant efforts to keep everyone safe.”

Garcia says staff and residents have been screened daily for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 since March 15th. Staff at the Woodward and Glenwood Resource Centers began wearing masks on April 1st. On Saturday, April 25th, Garcia ordered all staff in all five of the agency’s facilities to wear a mask at all times.