MASON CITY, Iowa - The news of the coronavirus may seem concerning and frightening to many. You may have questions regarding exactly what COVID-19 is, what steps to take, maybe even if you should travel.
Lately, phones have been ringing more than usual at CG Public Health, says Director Brian Hanft.
"We recognize that our community is watching how this is unfolding, not only in a local level in a sense that we're talking about Iowa, but also globally.
"We know there might be a lot of confusing information out there. We're trying to keep that information as direct and consistent and accurate as we possibly can."
That's why a call center is opening in Cerro Gordo County beginning this Thursday, to answer questions about the virus.
"We'll track and see how many calls are coming in on a daily basis, and determine how long do we need to leave it open. For now, we set a window, we'll look at it in a week, and see if we need to keep it open. If we need to keep it open long term, we'll do that."
The goal is to give the most accurate information with what's available.
"We know that we're in this for the long haul, and we're going to continue to do everything we possibly can for our community and try to provide the guidance they're looking for."
While an emergency response plan for a pandemic has been tested in the past, this is the first time it is being put into action.
"In the world that we live in, there hasn't been a pandemic, as it's defined, in the last 100 years. In general, pandemics happen about 100 years, and the last one was 1918 with the Spanish Flu."
The call center will officially open at 8 a.m. Thursday. If you have questions, you are asked to call 641-494-3546 or 641-494-3547. The center will be open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. In addition, Public Health will remain open at all times.