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Active virus cases bring Fayette County to fifth in NE Iowa region 6

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COVID-19 cases in Iowa Department of Public Health Region RMCC 6 are sorted by number of active cases — “not recovered” — as accessed using maps available at coronavirus.iowa.gov on Friday, July 10.

COVID-19 cases in Iowa Department of Public Health Region RMCC 6, accessed using maps available at coronavirus.iowa.gov on Friday, July 10.

Social distancing, masking and hand hygiene need to be remembered in Fayette County as social gathering rules have been relaxed, health officials say.

Active cases in Fayette County of the COVID-19 illness caused by the novel coronavirus — which were sitting at four last Thursday, July 2 — spiked dramatically over the Fourth of July weekend, Iowa Department of Public Health data show (at coronavirus.iowa.gov).

Fayette County now, on Friday, July 10, has the fifth-most active cases of the virus in the northeast Iowa region (RMCC 6) with 24, after Bremer County which has 26, trailing the more urban counties of Black Hawk (578), Dubuque (451) and Linn (252).

Total virus cases in Fayette County reached 55 as of Friday, tying it with Delaware County for ninth out of 14 counties in the region for the number of positive cases. Of those cases, 31 people have recovered.

“We have seen a decrease of social distancing and mask wearing, so just a friendly reminder that COVID-19 is still in Fayette County and those three things — social distancing, masking and hand hygiene — are so important,” said Jamie Hoey, marketing manager for Gundersen Palmer Fayette County Community Health.

County health officials continue to conduct contact tracing on positive cases.

“We, Public Health, will discuss with the person infected who they have been in close contact, meaning more than 15 minutes within 6 feet and without a mask,” Hoey said.

So in theory people in close contact with an infected person will be contacted — as long as that person remembers coming in close contact.

“It is not a failsafe, (contact tracing) because some people don’t even know who they’ve been around,” Hoey said. “Like in the news release, we don’t even know who we’ve been around or some people don’t even think about it.”

“As of right now we’re following Centers for Disease Control data saying it’s transmitted through respiratory droplets,” Hoey said. She was responding to a recent World Health Organization statement saying the possibility of COVID-19 transmission in smaller breathed aerosol particles — that stay in the air longer than respiratory droplets — needs further study.

“If you aren’t able to practice social distancing, wear a mask,” she said, echoing state and federal health officials.

The MercyOne hospital network in Northeast Iowa said last Friday it was reinstating a no-visitors policy owing to “the number of asymptomatic positive (COVID-19) cases and increased exposures in the community.”

UnityPoint’s Waterloo site, Allen Hospital, requests due to the COVID-19 pandemic that all patients call ahead before visiting, 319-235-3941 at Allen, 319-283-2651 at UnityPoint Oelwein, or their primary care provider, and mask if visiting if over age 2 and able to tolerate a mask. Allen Hospital said all patients are limited to one visitor at a time who must be 16 and older. The health system requires a provider’s order for all COVID-19 testing.

“We only want people to get tested who are symptomatic or were in close contact with someone who got it,” Hoey said, and echoed the need for a care provider’s recommendation. “If they are, they will be contacted by Public Health.”

The Fayette County retail pharmacies of Oelwein Family Pharmacy and Scott Pharmacy in Fayette are offering COVID-19 testing, Hoey said.

Scott Pharmacy also has some interesting updates on the novel coronavirus, including that it can cause sudden strokes in adults under age 50, and that the CDC has added six new symptoms: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. For more news updates, visit, https://www.scottrx.com/coronavirus.

As cases continue to increase, county health officials shared the importance for all individuals to understand that regardless of safety measures taken, it is impossible to guarantee that an individual will not be exposed to COVID-19 before, during or after community gatherings or events. Like most viruses, COVID-19 can be contracted by any person at any point traveling to, traveling from, or during the course of any gathering or event at any location.

“Those hosting gatherings or events may attempt to mitigate risk, but there are many things outside the host’s control,” said Fayette County Board of Health physician, Dr. Anthony Leo. “It is not possible for any individual to be completely shielded from a virus like COVID-19 when in the presence of other people.”

Attendance at community gatherings or events in 2020 involves assuming substantial risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and the consequences of that exposure could include illness, hospitalization, and in rare cases, death.

Attendance is an individual and voluntary choice made by an adult or the parent or legal guardian; individuals must understand and weigh the known risks versus the benefit of attending in person.

The CDC classifies the following persons as being at higher risk for severe illness:

•People 65 years of age and older

•People who live in a nursing home or a long-term care facility

•People of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions or at-risk individuals, such as pregnant/breastfeeding women, racial and ethnic minority groups, people experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities or people with developmental or behavioral disorders.

Based on this information, the Fayette County Board of Health Chair Pat Hunsberger says the board is issuing the following guidance, in alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Iowa Department of Public Health:

•We advise anyone who has any questions concerning the risk of COVID-19 to visit the Iowa COVID-19 website, coronavirus.iowa.gov;

•We advise anyone 65 years of age or older to not attend community gatherings or events at this time;

•We advise anyone of any age who has an underlying medical condition or is at risk to not attend community gatherings or events at this time;

•We advise anyone who has any concerns about becoming infected with COVID-19 to not attend community gatherings or events at this time;

•We advise anyone who is sick or who shows any symptoms of any illness to not attend community gatherings or events at this time as you may be placing other people at risk; and

•We advise that anyone voluntarily choosing to attend a community gathering or event at this time is doing so at his or her own risk.

“We understand that some people may have health concerns with attending social gatherings, and in this case, we, the Fayette County Board of Health, understand, support and encourage their decision to stay home,” Hunsberger concluded.

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