BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – Lee County is now just a half a point from being in double digits again on 7-day positivity ratings.
As of Monday afternoon, the Iowa website for up-to-date information on the spread and impact of the pandemic at coronavirus.iowa.gov, Lee County has a 9.5% 7-day rate with 7-day rolling positive test numbers close to spring numbers. The 14-day average is 5.7%. Des Moines County has a current 7-day rate of 2.7% and a 14-day rate of 5.6%
Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross said despite the increasing numbers and the confirmed presence of the Delta variant of the COVID virus in the county, vaccinations are static at 38%.
Ross said people should reconsider getting vaccinated, and at the least should go back to engaging in public safety measures to help change the direction of the spread in and around the county, despite the reluctance to get vaccinated.
“No it’s not moving, despite making the case that people should consider getting vaccinated if they are of age and medically can,” Ross wrote in a statement to Pen City Current Monday. “Public health, hospitals and (Centers for Disease Control) have not stopped encouraging vaccinations and this will continue in Lee County!”
Ross said she has no specific data from health experts in the state or across the country as to why people aren’t choosing to get vaccinated other than it is a personal choice.
“People have their own opinions formed for their reasons why the are not getting vaccinated,” Ross said.
“It is not about shortage, it’s about their personal choice and what they believe to be true. If people are in between deciding to get vaccintaed or not – we encourage you to talk to your health care provider about your concerns.”
At Tuesday’s Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting, Ross said that there are several vaccination clinics coming up in the county, but if people choose not to be vaccinated, they should at least engage again in health safety measures to help curb the increasing spread.
Those measures include:
• a strong recommendation to get vaccinated if eligible
• consider avoiding large indoor crowded areas or events or groups of people, especially if you haven’t been vaccinated, are immunocompromised or are more vulnerable to a serious reaction to the virus.
• use social distancing strategies when and where you can.
• where a mask in indoor public places where there may be unvaccinated people, especially in poorly ventilated areas.
• Wash hands frequently
• stay home when ill and seek medical consultation for symptom management and isolation recommendations.
Ross also said people should research positivity rates in any destinations if travel is planned.
The CDC has released guidelines for those fully vaccinated at the following link https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html, but Ross said now is the time for people to be choosing basic and effective mitigation strategies and tools.
“We do not want to become the next hot spot,” she said.
She said LCHD has requested additional guidance documents from the state health department and state department of education on guidelines to share in preparing for school to start.
“We have not received anything yet except what the CDC released on July 7 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html . I would encourage families to discuss/plan for mitigation strategies before school starts and consider what they can do to eliminate risks for their children. Check in with your local school districts to see what they are planning for reducing risks,” she said.
Ross said she believes the best way to get out of this latest uptick in positive cases and to stem off future strains from taking hold is to increase vaccination rates locally, nationally and globally.
“We need community champions and leaders helping public health promote vaccinations and use of effective mitigation strategies in our communities. We need strong voices to make that happen,” Ross said.
“Let’s turn this in the right direction!”
Ross said 63% of the new cases in Lee County are in the 18 to 29 years of age range, with an additional 18% of recent positive cases in the 0-17 years of age range.
Supervisor Garry Seyb asked if Ross had any data on the number of people who are fully vaccinated, but still contracted COVID.
Ross said she didn’t have those numbers for Lee County. She said hospitals may be tracking that data, but she doesn’t get access to that information.
“What they are telling us is that 93% of the people testing positive and becoming hospitalized with serious effects have not been fully vaccinated,” Ross said, “There have been a few breakthrough cases, but it’s like the flu. When you are fully vaccinated people can still come down with the flu bug.”
Supervisor Ron Felder said he’s understanding is that you can still get the virus if you are fully vaccinated, but you are much more likely to survive the effects if you are vaccinated.
“That’s why it is so important to get vaccinated. You have a much better chance of surviving it.” he said.