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COVID-19 cases continue to climb

WC sees 90 cases so far in October

By ANNE BLANKENSHIP

ablankenship@freemanjournal.net

Hamilton County has had 476 positive cases of COVID-19 since Marchwhen statewide reporting began and recently recorded another death attributed to the coronavirus, according Shelby Kroona, Hamilton County Public Health administrator.

“Our positivity rate does change on a daily basis and that is a calculation of testing and the number of positives,” she said. As of Tuesday, the positivity rate for Hamilton County is 11 percent.

Kroona offered the update Tuesday morning during the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Hamilton County Courthouse.

She said of the cases that her department is contact tracing, 62 percent are symptomatic, while 25 percent are asymptomatic — or having no symptoms.

“There’s always a small portion of the cases who do not answer the phone or who refuse to be interviewed. That’s about 10 percent of the overall cases. We just don’t know what their status is,” she said.

New software is allowing the health department to look at more specific data for the county, Kroona said.

“We’ve looked at the different age brackets. The two highest percentages of positivity are in the 19-30 year-old age group which is at 21 percent, and the 31 to 50 age group is at 33 percent,” she said.

The software also allows the health department to look at data by zip code.

“All of the Hamilton County zip codes, except Webster City, are considered stable – meaning that there are no new cases in 14 days — or decreasing — meaning that there have been no new cases in more than 14 days,” according to Kroona.

Webster City has an increasing number of cases. For the month of October through Tuesday, there have been 90 positive cases in the 50595 zip code, she said.

“Trending graphs show that we have hit our second peak in Webster City,” Kroona said. She reminded the board that today’s numbers reflect what happened 10 days ago.

Contract tracing has become more and more difficult for the public health department. People are reluctant to identify close contacts.

“There’s nothing wrong with reporting to the health department who your close contacts are,” Kroona said. Close contacts may be people who live with the individual. But also would include those the people have been in contact with in the 48 hours before the symptoms began or the positive test results.

“Almost daily people tell us that they have exposed nobody, but our numbers continue to rise,” she said. “There is exposure happening.”

Once a person has received a COVID-19 test, Kroona said the person needs to stay home until the test results come in.

“Once you test, you need to isolate until you get your results back. If you are a close contact, you need to complete the 14 days of quarantine or isolation,” she said. The lack of quarantining is something that is happening all over the state as people experience COVID fatigue.

“It is so important for people to stay home it they’ve been exposed so we can slow the spread,” she said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop the spread, but we need to slow the spread to protect our vulnerable populations.”

While many Hamilton County people who have contracted COVID-19 have experienced mild symptoms, Kroona said there has been a significant increase to those who have been very ill who have not been able to return to work after their isolation due to the severity of their symptoms.

“We’ve also seen an uptick in people needing some hospital support,” she said. “Maybe not a ventilator, but they need two or three days in the hospital to support them with oxygen or IV fluids.”

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