Story County Board of Health discussed potential further guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19


Caitlin Yamada/ Iowa State Daily

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Sam Stuve

The Story County Board of Health held a meeting on Monday to discuss the guidelines it recommends to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Story County, including recommending Iowa State having no fans at football games in the fall.

In regards to the possibility of Iowa State playing football games without fans, the board emphasized their recommendation for Iowa State to eliminate fans at athletic events to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“There is just no way I can think that Iowa State can control the masses of people coming to games right now,” said chair of the Story County Board of Health Dr. John Paschen. “I feel like we’re at a point where the Iowa State Fair Board was before they canceled the event…I feel really strongly about this and I think we need to make a stand on this. We can always change this plan if COVID-19 goes away, but we have to remember there will be an influx of students come August 15.” 

The plan would call for student-athletes to social distance when possible and require temperature screenings.

The Board of Health discussed guidelines for Iowa State University-related items, high school sports in Iowa, businesses in Ames, wearing face coverings, pre-K-12 schools and day care providers. 

The board stated that high school sporting events and other Iowa State sporting events could happen but may see social distancing and the wearing of face coverings being required.

Athletic and support staff would be required to wear face coverings.

Board member, Dr. Louisa Tabatabai, brought up the guidelines Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen said the university would implement when students return for fall semester.

The board stated they are going to look at the guidelines Iowa State has listed. 

The board is encouraging Iowa State and the County to go further than what their guidelines ask for.

“None of our guidelines should stop Iowa State or anyone to practice anything additional to what we recommend,” Paschen said. “Our recommendations should be as the minimum guidelines.” 

For “group living,” college students at Iowa State and other Ames residents should continue to follow published Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) health guidelines on group living and self-isolate if they are feeling COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for the virus.

In Monday’s discussion, the board debated over whether to use the term “face masks” or “face coverings.”

They decided they are going to go with the term “face coverings” and recommend staff members at local businesses wear a face covering, practice social distancing and strongly encourage requiring customers to wear face coverings.  

In two months or so, schools in the state are set to open up for the 2020-21 school year. 

According to Iowa Senate member Herman C. Quirmbach (D-Story County), Iowa Department of Education “has been working on guidelines for the fall,” and it is strongly recommended at this point “that the Story County Public Health Board make recommendations for the fall.”

Staff at pre-K-12 schools are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in this draft of the plan and temperature screenings would be encouraged as well.

Kids would be encouraged to wear face coverings as well, but the board said it realizes it may be hard to enforce that at all times.

At day cares, temperature screenings would be recommended before kids were dropped off for the day. Religious services would also recommend temperature screenings.

Quirmbach spoke about the County’s rising numbers in positive cases for COVID-19, as there are now nearly 500 in Story County.

“The last couple of weeks have been brutal,” Quirmbach said. “We’re catching the brunt of this virus right now.”

Every detail of the Story County Board of Health’s plan will be laid out in a meeting Thursday.  

The Board of Public Health will overview and vote on the final draft of the agenda in a meeting 6 p.m. Thursday and if approved, it’ll be sent to the Story County Board of Supervisors.