County COVID rates tick up, while vaccination rate stagnates

Lee County has one of the lower vaccination rates in the state and Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross is pleading with officials to help get the word out to increase vaccination rates from 12 years of age and up. Image courtesy of coronavirus.iowa.gov.

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – With the Delta variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus taking over coronavirus headlines, Lee County has seen a slight uptick in 7- and 14-day positivity rate as Iowans try to return to more normal routines.

According to a now-weekly report from the Lee County Health Department, the 7-day rate as of Monday morning was 3.6% of all tests coming back positive. The 14-day rate is a little lower at 2.5%. Currently 37.9% of Lee County residents are now fully vaccinated.

The county has had 4,115 total positive tests since the outbreak began. In the last seven days the 18-29 age group has seen 29% of all the positive tests.

Des Moines County currently has a 7-day positive rating of 10% and is now one of the highest counties in 7-day positivity rates.

At Monday’s Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting, LCHD Administrator Michele Ross took a few minutes at the end of the meeting to plead with county leaders and parents to encourage vaccinations.

Ross said the state of Iowa is at about 46% overall so Lee County is lagging behind and the number of people interested in getting vaccinated through the health department has dropped off significantly. The southern third tier of the state lags behind the rest of Iowa in getting residents vaccinated. Linn County has the highest vaccination rate in the state at 52.3%.

Lee County currently has 653 two-dose vaccine series started and has completed 11,207. The vaccine providers have also administered 1,529 single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and have administered 24,600 total doses.

“I can tell you, as we all know, the Delta variant is widely distributing across the United States. Additional cases were identified in Iowa in early May and since then the state has identified increasing occurrences of the variant,” Ross said.

“We don’t receive county specific data at this point, but the State Hygienic Lab is collecting data from all over Iowa to do some sequencing to see how prevalent it is in Iowa and how far it’s spread.”

She said all positive samples go to the Iowa Hygienic Lab for sequencing to create a better picture of the spread. But Ross said everyone should be assuming this variant is widely circulating in most communities in the state.

“I would say it’s safe to assume we have it here in Lee County.”

Ross then challenged all city and county officials, school administrators and leaders, faith based leaders and parents to reconsider getting vaccinated.

I want to throw out a challenge here. The best way to protect ourselves against this virus including the delta variant is getting vaccinated,” Ross said.

She said LCHD is developing strategies to increase the vaccination rates, especially for the 12-18 year old group and said they are looking at partnerships with local hospitals and schools to get those numbers increased.

“We still have work to do. The highest population testing positive is 18-29 year olds. We really want to encourage those age groups to get vaccinated,” she said.

Aside from Lee County Health Department, most area pharmacies and health care providers have vaccines. Ross said there is some data that people who are fully vaccinated have tested positive, but the severity of the illness is drastically reduced.

Supervisor Ron Felder said news reports showed the 99% of the people who are dying from the disease are unvaccinated.

“That should be a huge motivator to get this vaccine,” he said.

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