This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Hardin County recorded 23 new cases of COVID-19 last week, the largest weekly increase in cases since late February.

Since March 2020, there have been 1,823 cases of the disease in Hardin County. Of those, 1,712 have recovered, and 42 Hardin County residents have died, leaving 69 known active cases in the county as of Monday morning. The most recent hospitalization report, released almost a week ago by the Iowa Department of Public Health, showed no Hardin County residents hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19.

The uptick in cases last week was spread over five of the county’s ZIP codes, according to Hardin County Public Health’s weekly COVID report, which includes data for the week of April 17-23. The report shows the Alden ZIP code, which includes Alden, Buckeye and surrounding areas, reported 11 new cases of the illness last week. The rest of the Hardin County cases were reported in Eldora and Iowa Falls, which each had seven cases, and Ackley and Hubbard, which each had two cases.

Hardin County’s schools reported increased spread of the illness last week. Iowa Falls-Alden schools reported three new cases last Friday – the most since the week following spring break last month. And South Hardin reported four new cases – the most it’s seen since the week students and staff returned from winter break. The AGWSR School District is no longer releases weekly COVID-19 infection numbers. Ellsworth Community College reported no new cases of the illness last week.

Testing for COVID-19 was down last week after an increase the week before. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, a total of 542 tests were performed April 17-23, compared with 697 the week of April 10-16, and 581 the week of April 3-9.

COVID Testing Through April 23, 2021

The chart above shows weekly COVID-19 testing totals, from March 14, 2020 through April 23, 2021.

Vaccinations slow

Demand for vaccines in Hardin County and across Iowa has waned in recent weeks. Last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds used her weekly press conference to address the decreased demand. She said 43 counties had declined some or all of their vaccine allotments for this week.

“While it’s disappointing to see the shift, choosing to accept only the amount of vaccine that can be used is absolutely the right and responsible thing to do,” Reynolds said on April 21. “Vaccine supply that’s being declined is being reallocated to more populous counties in metro areas where demand is still higher.”

Hardin County Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents said her agency has declined two weeks of allocations - last week and this week - which is 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

“I think because we have so much vaccine in the county, people can go anywhere and get a shot if they wanted to,” Reents said.

In addition to the shots available from Hardin County Public Health (at Medicap Pharmacy in Eldora), vaccine doses are also available at Clinic Pharmacy and HyVee in Iowa Falls, and NuCara Pharmacy in Ackley.

“The larger counties are still dealing with the chaos of people wanting to get their vaccines,” Reents said. “We don’t want to hoard doses.”

As of Monday morning, 5,560 Hardin County residents – about 33 percent of the county’s total population – have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Another 1,236 people – 7.3 percent – have received a first dose of vaccine.

Last week, 441 Hardin County residents became fully vaccinated. The week before, that total was 446, and the week before that, 784 people became fully vaccinated.

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