Jones Co. positivity rate inches down

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     On Tuesday, Nov. 17, Public Health Coordinator Jenna Lovaas shared with the Jones County Supervisors that the 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate was 49.4 percent (40 percent as of Friday, Nov. 20).

     “We’re the worst in the state,” she said.

     At that time, 32 Jones County residents were hospitalized (24 as of Nov. 20), and 14 had died from the virus (seven county residents, five long-term care residents, and two inmates). Since then, a third inmate from the Anamosa State Penitentiary has died as well.

     A total of 1,925 inmates have been tested for the virus. Seventy-one remain positive; 721 are no longer positive. Forty-three staff members are still positive, with 87 no longer.

     In the last 14 days, there have been 736 cases; 219 in the last seven days; 84 in the last three days.

     Since the pandemic started in mid-March, Jones County has seen a total of 2,150 confirmed cases.

     Lovaas also briefly summarized Gov. Kim Reynolds’ new public health proclamation: enhanced public health measures, facemasks are required if you’re within 6 feet or 15 minutes of someone, with certain exceptions, as well as gathering restrictions.

     “It’s more complicated than necessary,” commented Lovaas. “But she said she would review (the guidelines) within a week and potentially modify them.”

     Lovaas shared that hospitals, including Jones Regional, are “extremely overwhelmed.

     “It’s not about having room for COVID patients, but for the general healthcare services,” she explained. “They’re concerned for space, and yet not transmitting COVID (to others).”

     Lovaas also received an open records request from The Brown Institute for Media Innovation in New York. The request was for “e-mail correspondence and all underlying documentation contained therein, between Oct. 15 to Nov. 16 sent to, from, or copied to Jenna Lovaas containing any of the following non-case-sensitive key-strings: ‘coronavirus,’ ‘outbreak,’ and ‘COVID-19.’”

     Lovaas it could take months for her to sift through all those e-mails requested, 500-plus, not to mention roughly $3,500 worth of her time. She told the board of supervisors she did inform County Attorney Kristofer Lyons, Auditor Janine Sulzner, and IT Coordinator Lisa Mootz about the request.

     “I’m just trying to stay afloat and healthy,” she said of a busy time.

     The State of Iowa did release funds to county public health entities, with Jones County expected to see about $19,000. The funding has to be spent, though, by Dec. 30, 2020.

     Lovaas said some ideas on where to use the funding include: public health salaries and wages, PPE, PPE for the local EMS services, and a scanner/thermometer for the courthouse security door (west entrance).


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