How BV got 600+ ‘recoveries’ in a day

Friday, July 3, 2020

A massive number of new COVID-19 recoveries in Buena Vista County this week is due less to a change in the virus situation, and more to the state giving up on contacting confirmed residents.

On Monday, a total of 651 recoveries had been reported for the county since the outbreak was first seen here in late March. Twenty-four hours later, the number had jumped to 1,327 (out of 1,695 cases since the outbreak began). By yesterday, the total recovered was reported at over 1,400.

The increase is mostly due to a change in the state’s protocol on what it considers recovered, according to Buena Vista County Public Health Coordinator Pam Bogue.

Local public health officials gave up doing surveillance on the cases in mid-May after the caseload became too much for the small staff to handle. Since then, the state has been responsible for surveillance, relying on phone calls to try to determine the status of each positive individual.

“Especially in our county, for multiple reasons, the state has had issues trying to get through to people. The same issue has been happening elsewhere to different degrees,” so the state has finally decided to change the protocol, Bogue said.

Starting this week, positive people who have not been hospitalized or passed away, and have had at least 28 days passed since their confirmed test, are being considered recovered.

“We still want people to talk to the Iowa Department of Public Health when they call, because that information needs to be collected to map a lot of trends,” the local public health leader said.

One interesting development: area people contracting the virus have recently been reporting a new symptom in considerable numbers - loss of the senses of smell and taste.

“It’s amazing how many people are reporting that, and it is sometimes the last thing to come back when they recover,” Bogue said.

Officials are uncertain if those new symptoms mean the virus is mutating or evolving - or if people earlier just hadn’t reported those symptoms because they were concentrating on the respiratory impact that was generating so much fear.

“It’s a brand new virus, there is still a lot to learn,” she said. “There is a lot of talk now about more serology tests being done [to determine if people have the antibodies to show they have been exposed]. “The hope is that we can learn more. If people are asymptomatic, how long do they carry that virus with them? There seems to be differentiation compared to the people who get it and show the symptoms, but the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) have not yet put out anything in writing on it.”

According to the state, as of this week only two Buena Vista County residents have had positive serology tests, as that testing is so far focused in more urban areas.

Bogue was not surprised at the big jump in BV recovery numbers. “We knew that people were getting well and were back at work,” she said.

In Buena Vista County, nine new COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday. Monday had seen three cases, Tuesday zero and Wednesday one - a drastic drop from earlier in the epidemic when more than 100 cases were being reported on some days. As of yesterday, the county surpassed the 1,700 cases mark to date.

The northwest Iowa region has 33 people hospitalized with COVID-19 Thursday, about the same as over the past week. So far this week, four to six new admissions are being reported per day.

One new case was reported yesterday in the long-term nursing facilities with outbreaks in Buena Vista County, for a total of 19 with seven recovered. Newell Good Samaritan has 11 cases and one recovered, Albert City Pleasant View has eight cases and six recovered.

While local numbers of new COVID-19 cases have decreased dramatically, Bogue is concerned that reopening could present an opportunity to pass the virus more quickly.

“With the 4th of July coming up, there are going to be more opportunities for people to travel or gather up - but they should know the virus is still here, and those precautions are helping. If people go to the Iowa Great Lakes or other places that are seeing cases, remember, those numbers aren’t going to show up where they may contract the virus. People will go for a weekend and bring it back to their home communities, and if they become positive, the numbers are counted in their county of residence.”

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