COVID-19 cases reach record levels in Jones Co.

Board of Supervisors
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     On Tuesday, Oct. 27, Jenna Lovaas, Jones County Public Health coordinator, shared that the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate was hovering around 10 percent with 146 open cases. (A total of 449 since the pandemic started in mid-March.)

     Jones County also reported an additional death related to COVID, bringing the total to four. Lovaas said the individual had been hospitalized. The county currently has two COVID-19 patients in the hospital.

     In a matter of four days, Jones County’s active cases rose to 199, as of Oct. 30.

     “Since our last update on Oct. 23, we have gained 93 confirmed cases,” reported Lovaas. “Forty-four of those cases were in one day on Oct. 29.”

     The total confirmed cases sit at 518.

     The county’s 14-day positivity rate also jumped to 15.1 percent. The State of Iowa’s positivity rate is lower, at 12.4 percent.

     “Please stop going places with groups of people,” urged JCPH. “Wear a mask when out in public.”

     JCPH also issued a press release, stating that the level of community spread of COVID-19 in Jones County has increased significantly this past week. The 15.1 percent positivity rate is the highest rate to date for Jones County since the start of the pandemic.

     The Jones County Board of Health and JCPH advise and recommend the following community mitigation strategies be adhered to at all times:

     • Stay home when unwell.

     • Wash hands often with both soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

     • Practice social distancing between yourself and other people (at least 6 feet).

     • Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering, especially in instances when social distancing is not feasible and/or other means to provide separation are not present. Research has suggested 80 percent of the population wearing masks would do more to reduce COVID-19 spread then a strict lockdown.

     • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.

     • Clean and disinfect touched surfaces and objects frequently.

     • Consult your healthcare provider or public health if you have questions.

     JCPH also does not recommend gatherings for social, community, recreational and leisure purposes at this time, except with those immediate family members who live in your home.

     As of Oct. 30, investigation and follow-up for COVID-19 cases in Jones County will be turned over and conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). Up to this point, all contact tracing was done by JCPH staff.

     “It was a difficult decision,” said Lovaas to transition the case investigation responsibilities to IDPH. “But we simply do not have enough staff to manage the rapidly increasing number of cases in the county.”

     As of Nov. 2, approximately half of all counties in Iowa have transitioned to utilizing IDPH for their COVID-19-related case investigations.

     Jones County residents who receive a positive COVID-19 test result should expect to be contacted via phone by trained disease investigators from IDPH. During the interview process, information is collected from the case on demographics, health information (symptoms and risk factors), and individuals who may have been exposed. However, JCPH staff will still have access to all information regarding COVID-19 cases in Jones County and are available to assist the public as needed.

     If you have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home and quarantine for 14 days from your last contact with the person who tested positive, and limit contact with other people in your household. If you develop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider or seek testing through www.testiowa.com.

     Emergency Management Coordinator Brenda Leonard shared with the Jones County Supervisors at their Oct. 27 meeting that there is mental health support for first responders through the Abbe Center and Hillcrest Family Services, related to the pandemic. Supervisor Wayne Manternach, who chairs the mental health region, said funding for such services was made possible through the CARES Act.

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