COVID UPDATE: Local numbers on roller-coaster path, 1,788 recovered

Friday, September 11, 2020

Buena Vista County COVID-19 numbers have been unsettled in recent days.

The county has seen 42 new cases in the past week, including a dozen cases confirmed Thursday - following a period in which only one new case was reported each on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Before that, there were 27 new cases in a three-day period.

Eleven new recoveries were reported in the past week. As of yesterday, 1,788 of the county’s 1,874 COVID cases to date were considered recovered.

BV County has seen 1,874 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic broke out, or 94 cases per thousand population - easily the highest rate per capita in Iowa. The second highest is Crawford County, with 51 cases per thousand. The BV numbers were inflated in early June, when nearly 600 cases were reported at once in an outbreak at Tyson Pork in Storm Lake.

As of Thursday, 10.5 percent of Iowans being tested proved positive for the virus. Of these, 13 percent were known to be asymptomatic. Twenty-one percent were known to have no pre-existing conditions. Cases were split evenly by gender.

By occupation, industry had easily the highest share of the cases confirmed, followed in order of cases from highest to lowest by retirees, health care workers, the unemployed, retail, food service and education.

In Buena Vista County, the highest share of cases by age were to those in the 18-40 group at 51 percent. Those 41-60 accounted for 34 percent, age 61-80 8 percent, and 7 percent of cases have been to children 17 and under. Statewide, the case numbers are skewed slightly higher in the older age groups.

The TestIowa testing site at the municipal golf course in Storm Lake has been extended four times, and is currently scheduled to run until October 2.

In the 14-day positivity rates used to determine if school districts can opt to go to all-online education, eight Iowa counties were over the 15 percent limit Thursday, led by Lyon and Sioux in extreme northwest Iowa with over 20 percent. BV and surrounding counties were all well under the limit.

As of Thursday, Buena Vista was listed at 9.1 percent 14-day positivity rate. O’Brien was the highest among area counties at 10.6 percent, Palo Alto was at 10.1 percent, Calhoun 9.0, Sac 6.8, Ida 6.7, Pocahontas 5.9. Cherokee 5.4 and Clay 2.5.

While Buena Vista County had earlier outbreaks at two long-term care facilities, both were cleared up during the summer. The only active outbreak in the region is at Prairie View nursing home in O’Brien County, with 25 cases reported, 17 of them now considered recovered.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the northwest Iowa region have trended somewhat higher over the past three weeks. After settling for some time in the low 20s each day, they had peaked early this week at 52 cases, with cases in intensive care in the double figures. On Thursday, there were 41 cases in hospitals, 10 in ICU, and eight new admissions.

Death toll to date is 12 in Buena Vista County, with no new deaths since earlier in the summer. There have been a total of 17 COVID-19 deaths in the surrounding eight counties to date.

Iowa has exceeded the 1,200 coronavirus death mark, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported Thursday, as 819 new cases and 20 additional deaths were reported statewide.

Case numbers have surged across the midwest in recent weeks, putting the region in the forefront of the pandemic. By early September, the region accounted for six of the top eight states in new cases confirmed, while new case numbers fell in many of the states previously worst hit.

No vaccine for COVID-19 is yet available to the public.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, there are currently multiple vaccine candidates in various stages of clinical trials. The first two vaccines anticipated to be available are not live vaccines - a weakened form of the germ that causes a disease. It is unknown which COVID-19 vaccine will be available first, officials said. Local health agencies will not be restricted to one vaccine and should be prepared according to the planning scenarios provided by IDPH, to have multiple presentations as the vaccine supply increases into 2021. Supply consideration will be given to which agencies are able to meet the cold storage requirement and timely administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

Each county will have a vaccination plan in place. It has not yet been determined if vaccine will be directly shipped to long term care facilities, or if counties will hold vaccination pods for residents and staff.

CDC has indicated they are working with national pharmacies chains to receive direct shipments of COVID-19 vaccines. It is unknown at this time which pharmacy chains will be selected, and no date has been set to begin delivery.

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