CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – The University of Northern Iowa put on a health panel Wednesday in regards to COVID-19 made up of university and public health officials. This was just hours after all Iowa public universities announced they would soon be transitioning to online classes to help protect students from the virus.
Leaders from the Black Hawk County Health Department said one thing that makes COVID-19 more of a concern to public health is its relative newness. While the flu has more cases, they said it's an enemy the health system knows how to fight. People also have at least a little immunity built up against the flu. For COVID-19, that isn't the case as no one has a built up immunity since it's new.
"It's comparing apples to oranges. Influenza is the enemy we know. It's a disease we're very familiar with. We have control measures, we have vaccines, antivirals and things like that. With coronavirus, it's new,” said Joshua Pikora of the Black Hawk County Health Department.
He also added during the panel that people should plan for disruptions to normal life.
"We're really urging people to think about what they would need to do, what arrangements they'd need to make if they would need to stay home for an extended period of time due to illness. For COVID-19, we're asking people to stay home for 14 days,” he said.
He said people should figure out what they would do with their children for that period of time and how to get groceries delivered to their home.
Health officials also discourage the use of masks by those who aren't sick as they don't do much to protect a healthy person.
They also discouraged “panic buying,” saying people should rush to the stores to immediately stock up out of fear.