Rick Nordahl talks health

Sanford Sheldon senior director Rick Nordahl speaks about the steps the hospital is taking in light of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, March 12.

SHELDON—Rick Nordahl is happy to see Iowa taking steps to reopen but warns that the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet.

The senior director of Sanford Sheldon Medical Center previously noted N’West Iowa would see its maximum surge of confirmed cases starting Monday, April 27 — the region saw seven new cases this day — and ending June 11.

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation Monday allowing Iowa to partially reopen some sectors including retail she previously shuttered to prevent communal spread of the coronavirus.

Nordahl lauded the reopening.

“That’s a good thing economically,” he said. “It gives some people, though, it will give them a false sense of security that it’s over and it’s not.”

Nordahl highly encourages people to continue to wear face masks in public, practice social distancing and still avoid gathering in groups larger than 10, which remains in effect from Reynolds’ previous proclamations, with the exception of churches.

“That scares me a little bit because I don’t know if the churches are going to make sure that everybody’s in a mask and that they are sitting 6 feet apart,” he said.

“That would be my concern from that standpoint; that we could see a spike — based on opening of churches — if churches don’t follow some of the guidelines that are out there.”

Another misconception about coronavirus Nordahl would like to clear up is what being asymptomatic means.

“I don’t know that people understand that means that ‘I have the virus and I can spread it but I don’t have symptoms,’” Nordahl said. “So if people aren’t feeling ill yet they’ve come in contact with COVID-19 they could likely have it and spread it for four days before they have symptoms and, sometimes, they can go through the whole disease process without having symptoms at all.

“That’s why it’s so important that we social distance and we wear a mask in public so that we ourselves don’t spread that virus to somebody else. The masks aren’t to protect us; they are to protect everyone around us.”

As far as confirming the virus in people who have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, Nordahl noted Sanford Sheldon does curbside tests on people twice a day Monday-Friday and once a day on Sundays.

According to the Iowa Department of Public of Health, as of today (Tuesday, April 28) 144 people have been tested in O’Brien County, although that data does not break it down by location within the county.

“So the clinic is a very safe place to be right now and, really, so is the hospital; we have not had a COVID-positive person in the hospital so there’s no risk,” Nordahl said.

“I’m encouraging people that have annual physicals or mammograms or colonoscopies — that are those normal things that we do — the governor said that we can start doing those again so I encourage people to call the clinic and make their appointment.”

Nordahl also noted people can arrange a video visit with their provider if they still feel uncomfortable about making an in-person appointment.

Lastly, Nordahl warns that Sheldon and N’West Iowa may experience a trickle-down effect from Nobles County, MN, where Worthington is located.

That county has 447 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of today, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

“That is going to filter into northwest Iowa because we have people that live in the same houses in Worthington working in our manufacturing and our hog production and our chicken production plants,” Nordahl said.

“We just need to be cautions; when we are sick we stay home — I think that’s a huge message — and just make sure that we really are aware of our own health and that we mask and social distance and I think that can really have an impact so that we don’t become a little spike like Worthington has.”