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Preventing, Detecting + Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks

IDPH Guidance on COVID-19

A message from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has issued guidance for Greater Des Moines (DSM) and Iowa businesses on containing COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the region and our state. Outbreaks are defined as greater than 10% of employees ill with symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing or other respiratory symptoms).


IDPH offers tips on the prevention and spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Businesses should implement measures to enable social distancing as much as possible.
    • Consider staggering shifts to reduce worker population at any given time.
    • Stagger breaks to reduce staff interactions.
    • Review procedures to identify ways to increase the physical separation of staff.
  • Businesses should prioritize hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette among employees.
    • Businesses should provide or allow employees to wear their own homemade cloth facemasks.
    • Businesses should provide hand sanitizer or handwashing opportunities as frequently as possible.


The IDPH offers a screening algorithm to assess their symptoms for COVID-19. Exclude any cases reporting fever or respiratory symptoms (these cases will be directed to stay home and isolate) until they:

  • Have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) AND
  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
  • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

Exclusion criteria must be followed with all symptomatic employees, regardless of whether the testing is completed (even if the employee tests negative for COVID-19 infection).

Report to IDPH when 10% or greater of your employees are reporting the COVID-19 symptoms listed above by filling out this survey.


Coordinate with occupational health providers to define a pathway to test symptomatic employees.

  • Public health will approve State Hygienic Laboratory testing for symptomatic employees during outbreaks.
  • The occupational health provider or employees’ personal health providers will be responsible for collecting the nasopharyngeal swab for testing and following-up for medical care as needed.

When employees test positive for COVID-19, public health and occupational health will work jointly to investigate cases and identify the following contacts:

  • Household contacts
  • Rideshare partners
  • Coworkers with prolonged contact (within 6 feet of the case for at least 30 minutes)

All of these contacts will be directed to stay at home and isolate themselves from other people and animals in the home for 14 days after the last known exposure to a person with COVID-19.

Businesses should consider excluding high-risk employees when outbreaks are ongoing. High-risk employees would include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised
      • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications o People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥40)
    • People with diabetes
    • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
    • People with liver disease

The IDPH recommends business decisions to close be based upon workforce availability and the ability to follow the recommended measures outlined above.

You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.

Iowa Department of Public Health

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) partners with local public health, policymakers, health care providers, business leaders, and many others to fulfill our mission of protecting and improving the health of Iowans.