According to a tracking project by The New York Times, Iowa has had the most new virus cases per capita of any state over the last seven days. Ames and Iowa City, home to the state’s two largest public universities, rank second and fourth nationally among metro areas with the most cases per capita over the past two weeks, according to Times data.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated September 1, 2020
Why is it safer to spend time together outside?
- Outdoor gatherings lower risk because wind disperses viral droplets, and sunlight can kill some of the virus. Open spaces prevent the virus from building up in concentrated amounts and being inhaled, which can happen when infected people exhale in a confined space for long stretches of time, said Dr. Julian W. Tang, a virologist at the University of Leicester.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed like it was primarily a respiratory illness — many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, though some people don’t show many symptoms at all. Those who seemed sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and received supplemental oxygen. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April, the C.D.C. added to the list of early signs sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and nausea, has also been observed. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound diminution of one’s sense of smell and taste. Teenagers and young adults in some cases have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes — nicknamed “Covid toe” — but few other serious symptoms.
Why does standing six feet away from others help?
- The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, has balked at mandating masks be worn statewide, and has been criticized for barring K-12 schools from holding online-only classes unless the virus positivity rate reaches 15 percent or above in their counties. The state’s recent spike in cases has occurred as both K-12 and college students returned to campuses.
The governor only last week ordered bars and nightclubs to close in the two big university cities. Meanwhile, Iowa State University, in Ames, said it would allow 25,000 fans to attend a football game on Sept. 12, about 40 percent capacity for its stadium.
Ms. Greenfield, a businesswoman who, like her opponent, grew up on a farm, called on Wednesday for a statewide mask mandate, which Ms. Ernst has said should be a personal choice.
“We all want to beat this coronavirus pandemic, restart our economy, begin the school year safely, and get back to normal,” Ms. Greenfield said. “The science is clear — the best way to do that is if we all wear our masks.”
David Yepsen, a former political reporter and columnist at The Des Moines Register, said the coronavirus was just one issue unsettling the electoral landscape in a largely rural state that Mr. Trump easily won in 2016. Ms. Ernst, who lives in a county of just 5,700 people, should have a natural advantage over the Des Moines-based Ms. Greenfield, 56, who is appearing on a general election ballot for the first time.
“The governor’s managed to make everyone unhappy with the uncertainty over school openings, closing or not closing bars,” Mr. Yepsen said. “Ernst’s musing about conspiracy theories” about coronavirus plays into that unease, he added.