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The UHPD has temporarily changed the way in which it conducts routine interactions, but remains at the ready. Learn more about the UHPD on the Police Department page, and find officers in the Police Department directory.
These are unpredictable and worrisome times, but together we will get through this. We are fortunate to live in Johnson County, where we have an active, well-prepared Emergency Management Agency (EMA). The director, Dave Wilson, was the first in the State to activate the countywide Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which brings together personnel, resources and elected officials from across the County to work together on a coordinated response to emergency situations such as this one.
The initial activation of the Johnson County EOC was on March 10, the week before Spring Break. This was not done because we were in crisis or overwhelmed by COVID-19, but rather to implement and coordinate county-wide emergency plans that were already in place. This collaborative approach has benefited all of Johnson County, from procurement and distribution of supplies to consistent, data-based messaging. Additionally, our EMA had supplies stockpiled from the last biological threat and we have three premier medical facilities located in Iowa City with University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC) being the largest hospital in the State with over 800 hospital beds within their facilities.
It simply is not possible to list every individual and every action that is being taken to respond to, and to continue to prepare for, COVID-19. The EOC and partners include public health representatives from the Johnson County Public Health, Iowa Department of Public Health, the State Hygienic Lab, UIHC, Mercy Iowa City, the VA Hospital, the Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Officer, and our local pharmacy group. Johnson County first responder agencies are also at the table, including the Johnson County Ambulance Service, all local fire agencies, and all law enforcement agencies. There are politicians but no politics.
University Heights Mayor Louise From and elected officials from each of the cities within the county, Johnson County, and State representatives are present. The Johnson County Attorney participates. Social service providers such as the Domestic Violence Intervention Project, Shelter House, the Salvation Army, the Safeguard Iowa Partnership, the Red Cross, and United Way are also partners. The Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center is present. Community businesses and industries (e.g., restaurants and bars, hotels, laundromats, adult beverage makers, local specialty stores/shops), although severely impacted themselves offer services and support through Think Iowa City and the Chamber of Commerce. The University of Iowa and all the school districts within the county are part of the team. The Iowa National Guard and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management play important roles. Within our county EOC, EMA Director Dave Wilson leads, manages, and coordinates the process.
Imagine if 100 or more different individuals, agencies, and/or interests were all acting independently, each competing with one another while trying to scavenge resources and making decisions based on inaccurate information and rumor. Not good. This is not happening in our community. Instead, we work together. Situational reports and briefings are conducted daily via a teleconference call. We report and discuss any changes that occurred during the 24 hours since the last briefing. Immediate and future needs are identified, and plans made. A public information officer serves as the dedicated point-of-contact and ensures consistent and fact-based information flows from the EMA.
COVID-19 is not a threat that can be seen approaching like a tornado or rising flood waters, but it is here, and it is coming still. I want to assure you that University Heights, that Johnson County, is not being complacent. We are prepared and we continue to prepare by procuring more supplies and increasing capacity at every level of our healthcare system. Accurate and fact-based information, data-driven decision making, coordinated efforts and resource sharing, consistent messaging and rumor control are a few of the critical components of an effective response.
I will say it again, Johnson County is prepared. I do not want to mislead you. People will become ill and, unfortunately, some will succumb to COVID-19 related complications, but I absolutely believe we are in a far better position to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our community than most other places because of our Community. We are unified in our efforts.
Look after yourselves. Look after each other, especially those more vulnerable than you. Be safe. Wash your hands often. Be responsible and practice social distancing but do something stimulating, something outside if you are able, but something: walking, running, biking, yard work, gardening, a puzzle, a project that has been put off for too long. Stay healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
If you are struggling in any way, reach out for help. Iowa-nice is real, especially in Johnson County. So many people truly want to help and there are support services and resources available.
Like all other area law enforcement agencies, the University Heights Police Department has temporarily changed the way in which it conducts routine interactions, but we remain at the ready. We are here for our community, University Heights, even as we work with our partners to protect the larger community of Johnson County.
Stay safe. Stay well. Help your neighbors and community as you are able. Please call if you need assistance.
Troy Kelsay, Chief of Police