The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Hardin County over the past week – and the number of local residents hospitalized for the disease – was up from previous weeks, signaling that despite the continued distribution of vaccines across the state, the virus is still circulating.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, as of Monday morning, a total of 1,740 Hardin County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020. That’s 22 more cases than one week ago. As of Saturday, two Hardin County residents were hospitalized for treatment of the virus, up from zero hospitalizations this time last week. There have been no additional deaths reported in the last week. In total, 39 Hardin County residents have died of the virus since August 2020.
Vaccine rollout continues
Hardin County Public Health is continuing to distribute the 300 vaccine doses it receives each week. And eligibility for those shots will expand this week. Previously, vaccines could only be distributed to people in Phase 1A (health care providers and long term care residents and employees) and Phase 1B Tier 1 (first responders, K-12 educators, child care providers and people age 65 and older). Beginning Monday, the agency is vaccinating people age 64 and younger who have an underlying health condition that could make them susceptible to severe illness if they contracted COVID-19. (Find those conditions here.)
Vaccines are being distributed by other entities in Hardin County, and some Hardin County residents have left the county to receive vaccine doses elsewhere. As of Monday morning, 2,686 Hardin County residents – 15.9 percent of the county’s population – had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Another 1,838 – 10.8 percent of the population – have received a first dose of vaccine.
During a press conference last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds said all Iowans will be eligible to receive a vaccine beginning April 5, assuming vaccine allotments to the state increase. Hardin County Public Health has not set a date for when the vaccine will be available to everyone who wants a shot. The public is encouraged to complete an online vaccine sign-up form with Hardin County Public Health to ensure they’re notified when they become eligible for the vaccine. (Find the form here.)
COVID-19 in the schools
Some of Hardin County’s recent COVID-19 cases are being diagnosed in people connected to local schools. Last Friday, Iowa Falls and Alden school districts Superintendent Tony Neumann reported four new COVID-19 cases in the two districts. The districts do not distinguish between cases in students and staff, and they also do not release information about the number of people in quarantine as a result of cases.
The AGWSR School District reported no new cases last week. South Hardin schools did not issue a report last week due to spring break.
Ellsworth Community College began testing all student athletes and coaches on March 1 and conducts surveillance testing every Monday. The college reported six cases the week of March 1, and seven cases the week of March 8. Provost Dr. Martin Reimer said almost all of those cases had been asymptomatic. On Monday, the college reported no new cases during the week of March 15.
ZIP code data updated
A report from Hardin County Public Health shows the new cases of COVID-19 last week were reported in ZIP codes across the county. The Iowa Falls ZIP code, which is the county’s most populous, had the most new cases last week with nine. The Eldora ZIP code followed with five new cases, the Ackley ZIP code had three, Hubbard ZIP code had two, and the New Providence and Radcliffe ZIP codes each reported one new case.