COVID Update: Storm Lake a ‘hot zone,’ Iowa rate twice the U.S. average

Friday, October 16, 2020

COVID-19 case confirmations continue to increase steadily in the local area. As of Thursday, there had been 2,175 cases to date in Buena Vista County, an increase of 72 in the past week. More than 109 cases per thousand population in the county have been confirmed through testing - by far the highest rate in the state. The county has seen 1,923 recoveries, up 48 from a week ago.

Storm Lake is among eight Iowa metro areas listed in the newest White House Coronavirus Task Force report as “red zones” for spread of the virus, along with area cities Spencer, Spirit Lake and Sioux City. Others are Carroll, Council Bluffs, Dubuque and Pella.

Of cases in BV County, 50 percent have been in the 18-40 age group, 33 percent to ages 41-60, 10 percent to those 61 and over, and 8 percent to children 17 and under.

To date, 12 county deaths have been attributed to COVID-19, with no new deaths reported in months.

Around the area, Clay County has seen four deaths, Palo Alto 1, Pocahontas 2, Calhoun 3, Sac 2, Ida 2, Cherokee 2, O’Brien 9, and Dickinson (the Iowa Great Lakes) 7. Woodbury County (Sioux City) has reported 82 deaths, and Webster (Fort Dodge) 14. Statewide, 89 percent of the COVID fatalities have been to people age 61 and over, the vast majority with pre-existing conditions.

In the northwest Iowa region, 125 people are being treated for COVID in hospitals, 25 in intensive care, with 17 new admissions yesterday. Hospital numbers in the region have remained over 100 cases per day steadily for well over a week.

There have been no BV outbreaks in long-term care facilities for some time, following resolved outbreaks in Albert City and Newell nursing homes earlier. Currently in the region, one facility each in Cherokee, O’Brien and Palo Alto counties have outbreaks, and two in Webster County. Statewide, 60 facilities report outbreaks with 1,473 active COVID-19 cases and 758 deaths to date.

In 14-day positivity rates, used to determine whether schools will meet in person or online, only one area county - O’Brien at 16.4 percent - is over the 15 percent threshold. Buena Vista County, which had fallen into the 9 percent range, had risen again to 12.8 percent as of Thursday.

Across Iowa, case counts also continue to climb steadily, with 1,410 new confirmed cases announced Thursday. Thirteen new death reports put the state total over 1,500 since the outbreak began. The state saw a sixth day of record hospitalizations within two weeks.

Iowa continues to have twice as many new coronavirus infections as the national average, according to the latest report from the White House task force.

Thirty-eight Iowa counties are listed as “red zones” in the new report, compared to 30 the previous week.

The White House task force said is it “critical” for Iowans to continue efforts like physical distancing, wearing face protection, and discouraging public gatherings.

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