BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Lee County surpassed 1,000 positive cases of coronavirus on Thursday, and health officials again are cautioning residents heading into the holiday season.
The county’s 14-day positivity rate with increased daily testing is now 11.5% in Lee County, up a full 3% since Monday, showing spread is on the rise locally. In the past 24 hours, according to Lee County Health Department, 37 new cases were identified in the county.
LCHD Administrator Michele Ross said that positivity rate puts the county back in a moderate community spread risk level.
Iowa now has a positive rate of 13.1% with just under 115,000 people testing positive for the virus, and 1,693 Iowans have died from complications of the virus, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Lee County has seen 12 deaths since reporting began in March.
On Oct. 26 the state saw the highest one day total of positive cases at 2,724. The overall state 14-day positivity rate is 11.9%. In Lee County 32% of those testing positive are in the 18-40 age range, while 34%, are 41-60 years of age. LCHD is also reporting 672 of the cases have recovered.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 virus is still spreading and cases are increasing across the county as well as Iowa and the United States,” Ross said Thursday.
“Today we have exceeded 1,000 positive cases since this began in March 2020. Over the past weeks, cases have been steadily increasing with our current 14-day positivity rate today at 11.5%. This puts us back at moderate community level risk for spread of this virus.”
Ross said bluntly the best way to prevent exposure is to not put yourself in a position to be exposed.
The virus is mainly thought to be spread from person to person when coming into close contact with someone carrying the virus for a total of 15 minutes, even if that 15 minutes is broken up exposure.
Ross said health experts are still promoting a social distance of at least six feet, as well as wearing a mask when outside your own household.
Included in ongoing health safety guidelines are:
- Stay at least six feet from others at all times.
- Wear a mask when in public settings; especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Everyone should wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID -19 such as loss of taste or smell, congestion, headache, runny nose, sore throat, etc. Follow public health and CDC guidance if symptoms develop and isolate from others.
Ross said LCHD understands the stress and toll the virus has taken on the lives of county residents.
“It has not only threatened our physical health, but has also challenged our mental well-being as well as our economic security and livelihoods,” she said.
“As much as we would all like to return to normal times with friends and family, especially with the upcoming holidays, we all need to remember this pandemic is not over and we should continue to support each other in times of need and practice the recommended public health mitigation guidelines.
“We encourage everyone to make responsible decisions to safe guard not only your own health, but the health of your family members, co-workers, friends, our local businesses, and our community as a whole.”
The following links can be accessed to seek education, support and resources while trying to safe and healthy during these difficult and stressful times.
If members of the public have questions regarding voting while in quarantine or isolation, please contact the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office at 888-767-8683.