|Mitch Schultz from ISDA release this information on Wednesday. At this point in the COVID-19 response, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and county public health officials are continuing to “contact trace.” This means that if someone is infected with COVID-19, public health will identify everyone that the person had prolonged face-to-face contact with while they had symptoms. This is an individual, case-by-case assessment of the people most at risk.
Hypothetically, if someone came to work sick and then tested positive for COVID-19, the coworkers that had direct, high-risk contact (for more than 2 minutes within 6 feet) with the sick person, will receive voluntary home confinement orders from the IDPH. An entire farm or packing plant will not be quarantined, like what may occur during a foreign animal disease outbreak.
If an operation experiences staffing shortages that impede its ability to properly care for its animals, the business manager should contact the IDPH. Public health officials may make an exception for “high-risk” exposures if workers are asymptomatic and follow proper biosecurity protocols.
There will be a tipping point where IDPH will no longer be able to keep up with contact tracing and issuance of individual isolation orders. IDPH cannot predict when this will occur. Once it happens, the goal is for Iowans is to self-initiate social isolation and stay home when they are sick to protect others. IDPH strongly encourages employers to implement workplace leave policies that support the “no-contact goal” to slow, and ultimately stop, the spread of COVID-19.
At this time, the CDC and the World Health Organization do not believe animals play a role in the transmission of COVID-19, but we always encourage animal owners to practice good biosecurity. This includes washing your hands frequently. If you are sick, try to limit contact with animals until we learn more about COVID-19. If possible, find someone else to care for the animal(s) until you are feeling better.
This is a good reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness. You should have a plan to care for your animals if any situation, including a disease-outbreak or natural disaster, temporarily disrupts daily activities. You should prioritize and cross-train critical functions and have a plan for where you can pull or re-assign additional staff, if needed.
It is most important for the agriculture industry to have flexible leave policies in place and make sure workers understand they need to stay home when they are ill. Many of these concerns can be alleviated by proper handwashing and encouraging sick workers to stay home.
This situation is evolving by the minute and changes may be made to these procedures as more information comes in.
Pasteurized milk and dairy products are safe.
The FDA has confirmed that heat treatment kills other coronaviruses, so pasteurization is expected to also inactivate this virus. In addition, there is no evidence that this strain of coronavirus is present in domestic livestock such as cattle. The virus is spread through aerosol transmission and close human contact, not through food products.
The Iowa DOT has confirmed that the governor’s proclamation does apply to the movement of milk and dairy products