I don’t have COVID, but I’m sure sick from it

The coronavirus has hit me.

No I haven’t tested positive, but the assault of data on my brain has left me sleepy, nauseous, and irritable. Like we needed something else to irritate me.

But it does. It irritates me that we can’t count on the numbers out of the state, and I believe that’s intentional.

A bit pessimistic – maybe. Conspiracy theorist…? Ok.

But spend some time reviewing coronavirus.iowa.gov for a while. And do it with this in mind. The state wants to show as positive a picture as possible, even when and if the numbers aren’t positive.

We review the state’s daily positive reporting for Lee County each day. We also get a 3:30 report from the Lee County Health Department each day. Because they are reported at different times, they don’t match. LCHD reports positive cases from 3:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The state reports an ongoing number and then adjusts as they clean up data. So those numbers are never going to match making it difficult to see what is really happening day to day. And that’s frustrating

In late August, the LCHD decided to just use the state’s Total Case count as of 3:30 p.m. for it’s daily report. If you take a look at a two-week snapshot of the LCHD numbers vs. IDPH numbers they’re pretty close, but not the same.

Area schools are seeing different numbers with Central Lee High School reverting to a hybrid model last week for two weeks because of spike in positive cases there. All while the 14-day positivity rate continues to drop in the Lee County

Maybe using that rate as the benchmark for state education officials is a bad idea. Maybe they should rely on local school reporting to determine what needs are there.

Dr. Erin Slater and Dr. Andy Crozier know what’s going on in their respective districts. Crozier didn’t use state numbers to make the decision to go to hybrid learning last week, he used internal data to make that decision.

That’s good. We have to look to leadership for guidance, but it’s comforting to see that at the end of the day, locally we’re doing what’s best for our kids.

The Fort Madison Community School District’s decision to start the year in a hybrid model was a brilliant stroke. That move alone could have mitigated the spread for all students, and potentially families, in the district. There were other steps taken, but having half the students learning at home and half at school certainly created breathable space and made social distancing possible.

Throw in the mask mandates while students are in transition, and ramped up sanitation, and we can feel a little better about an otherwise crummy situation.

And this crummy situation has me still thinking I have some construction chops, which I don’t, and redoing half my house. This pandemic can end at anytime so I can stop spending money and slicing thumbs open… But that’s Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current

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