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

Hardin County saw another sharp increase in the number of active COVID-19 cases this week, continuing an upward trajectory that began in late July after weeks of minimal virus transmission.

Hardin County COVID-19 Cases Sept. 14, 2021

A graph on the Iowa Department of Public Health's coronavirus website shows the breakdown of ages of new COVID-19 cases in Hardin County between Sept. 7 and 14, 2021. Thirty-five percent of the new cases are in children age 0-17.

According to data released by the Iowa Department of Public Health on Wednesday, 125 Hardin County residents tested positive for COVID-19 between last Tuesday, Sept. 7, and this Tuesday, Sept. 14. A chart on the state’s website shows that children age 0-17 make up the largest share of those new cases at 35 percent, confirming reports from local health care providers and public health officials.

“We have tested a lot of students that have been positive,” Hardin County Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents said on Wednesday. “This never happened last year. These are kids that are having symptoms, kids that are not feeling well.”

Last weekend, Dr. Thomas Waters, a physician at Iowa Falls Clinic in Hansen Family Hospital, told the Times Citizen he’d seen more children with COVID-19 in the previous week than he did at any time last year.

Hardin County Positives Sept. 14, 2021

A graph on the Iowa Department of Public Health's coronavirus website shows the trajectory of the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, which began in late July and continues this week.

The 125 new cases over the last week – the most in a single week since last November – boosted the number of active cases in Hardin County. According to the state, as of Tuesday a total of 2,308 Hardin County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020. Of that total, 1,975 are classified as having recovered, and 47 local people have died of the disease. That leaves 286 active cases, up from 189 one week ago. In contrast, on June 14 the county reached its lowest number of active cases in a year with 12.

The state reported on Thursday that four Hardin County residents were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, down from five people the week before. Statewide, hospitalizations remained steady at 578 people being treated for COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Vaccinations slowed over the last week. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 8,095 Hardin County residents were fully vaccinated as of Sept. 14. That's about 48 percent of the county's total population, and an increase of 71 vaccinations from the week before. Each of the previous three weeks, the state reported 124, 90 and 99 newly-fully-vaccinated residents, respectively. Of the Hardin County residents who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (people age 12 and up), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 55.5 percent are fully vaccinated.

Judge's order leaves mask rules up to schools

Until Monday this week, Iowa schools were prohibited from requiring masks in school buildings. A bill passed by the Iowa Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds in the early morning hours of May 20 made school mask mandates illegal. But on Monday this week, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt issued a temporary restraining order stopping enforcement of the mask mandate ban. While some Iowa school districts – Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs – acted quickly to implement mask rules, none of Hardin County’s school boards have issued new rules, and superintendents said there are no immediate plans to take up the issue.

“What we need to understand about these situations is that they’re very complex,” Dr. Adam Zellmer, superintendent of the Eldora-New Providence and Hubbard-Radcliffe districts, said in a video published on social media Tuesday afternoon. “They’re challenging to interpret, and it’s going to take time to work through legal channels and those rules making processes before these things are settled and before we can apply them effectively as a school district.”

Iowa Falls and Alden school districts’ superintendent Tony Neumann said he is waiting on guidance from attorneys, and he’s waiting to see how appeals to Pratt’s temporary restraining order play out.

“We need a little more time to see what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re kind of saying let’s wait a week and see what happens with appeals. If we’re constantly going back and forth, we’ll never know what’s going on.”

Joint Mask Meeting

Michael Rundall, South Hardin High School principal and father of two younger students, took his turn at the May 17, 2021 special joint meeting of the Hubbard-Radcliffe and Eldora-New Providence school boards to express his hope that the mask mandate stay in place for the final 12 days of classes. New IDPH guidelines however changed both boards' stance on the matter. They voted to lift the mandate and to make masks optional.

Schools in the Iowa Falls, Alden, E-NP and H-R school districts had mask mandates in place at the start of the 2020-2021 school year. In May, following a change by the Iowa Department of Public Health in quarantine guidelines for people – including students – who’d been exposed to COVID-19, the Iowa Falls School Board voted on May 10 to make masks optional beginning May 24. The Alden School Board rescinded its mask rule on May 18. The South Hardin school boards followed suit, citing the IDPH guidance as reason to lift its school mask mandate on May 17. In almost every district, school board members were confronted overwhelmingly by parents who argued - some vehemently - that the masks were more of a burden than a benefit.

Neumann said the district’s attorneys from the Des Moines firm Ahlers and Cooney are working on memos that will provide some guidance on mask rules. Neither masks nor the current surge of COVID-19 cases was discussed at Monday’s Iowa Falls School Board meeting. In Eldora, two parents addressed the E-NP School Board during public comment at Monday’s meeting to request that coronavirus mitigation measures be put back in place. Board members did not respond publicly. Neumann said the Alden School Board is not planning to discuss masks or COVID-19 mitigation at its meeting next Monday.

While all of the local school districts released weekly student and staff COVID-19 case numbers last year, none of them are doing that this year.

(11) comments

Sarah Hensley

Times Citizen is censoring me again and won't let me say what I want to say even though I'm breaking no rules. I have links I want to share; all very professional, highly qualified sources, but that is not allowed here. Consider the fact that the "truth" that Times Citizen supports right now is so weak and fragile that it cannot bear to be scrutinized or even questioned, for fear of people abandoning it. What kind of science is that?


Timothy Baumann

The fastest ways to contract and die from Covid are to not take the vaccines, not wear a mask, and not listen to your doctor. And, how can you say that masks don't work to lower transmission when (a) it is undeniable that covid is spread through the air from the nose and mouth, (2) the masks cover your nose and mouth, and (3) the masks act as a barrier when virus ejects out of your nose and mouth. The is not a political conclusion but simple common sense.

This virus is killing plenty of young and healthy adults and-- as this article indicates-- is now out-of-control in children. It is out of control not because people are vaccinated but because many are not vaccinated.

We did not overcome diseases like polio by simply living healthy lives--and these viruses do not care what your weight is. The unvaccinated are incubators of variants of the virus because they are primarily the ones getting infected. If the vaccination rate is not increased, a variant might be created that evades the vaccines and then we will be back to square one.

So, please get vaccinated. Do it for your community, your friends, and your neighbors. And, if not for them-- do it for yourself.

Sarah Hensley

Look at Israel. Pay attention to what follows high vaccination rates around the globe.

The cases in children are high but the overwhelming majority of them will recover just as well as they would from other childhood illnesses. Vaccine injuries and deaths among children are also occurring and news about those occurrences are not allowed to be promoted mainstream.

These vaccines are nothing like the polio vaccine, which was nothing short of a miracle. If we had a vaccine like the polio vaccine, it’d be a different conversation entirely.

Being overweight is definitely a major risk factor- not for becoming infected but for the severity of the illness. Anyone who says it doesn’t matter is spreading misinformation.

Scientists are also sounding the alarm about increasingly dangerous variants being created due to the vaccine, but are adamant that the best way to prevent that is to stop the mass vaccinations.

Please advocate for the early treatment options that are out there. They save lives (and would lower hospitalization rates in general).

Timothy Baumann

In the US, high vaccination rates (e.g., in states like Vermont) generally correlate to lower infection rates, while lower vaccination rates (e.g., in states like Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, etc.) correlate to higher infection rates and death rates. This is undeniable.

You cannot know whether the overwhelming majority of children will "recover" from covid--in fact, there are some recent studies showing other effects of covid such as kidney problems for covid patients that were not hospitalized. I will not risk my children's future health to a disease where the long term effects cannot be known.

You say that scientists are "adamant" that the best way to stop the spread is to stop the mass vaccinations. The article you cited in your first post to support this proposition was by a Dr. Read. But, a quick internet search reveals that Dr. Read has rejected the view that vaccinations should cease--in fact he takes the exact opposite view--people should get vaccinated. Dr Read is adamant about this.

If there are safe early treatment options, for sure get these if you get covid. But like the old saying goes: prevention is better than please get vaccinated.

Sarah Hensley

Hi Tim,

“Of the 10 states with the worst Covid-19 case rates over the past week, seven of them also had among the 10 best vaccination rates, according to the agency.” (I personally do not rely on CNN but for those who do...) I am assuming this part is still currently true. And again, if you pay attention, the illness gets worse the more we vaccinate, consistently around the world. The highest vaccination rates lead to the highest death rates.

I did not mean to imply that the article I posted was written by someone who is calling for a stop to the vaccinations. I only meant to provide it as evidence that the vaccines are the problem, and a scientific reason to listen to anyone who is speaking up against the vaccines and the harm they are causing. This science is useful to us all to enable us to at least acknowledge that vaccinating with such low-performing vaccines against this type of virus is dangerous.

Thank you for acknowledging the benefit of early treatment. There are definitely effective early treatments, and the doctors who are using them globally are using them with success but in the United States we are being kept in the dark and/or discouraged from seeking them.

P.S. Please consider that the long-term effects of the vaccine on children are also unknown, and what is known is also being suppressed. I ask you to consider the possibility that this is a nefarious, man-made crisis. That being said, I respect whatever choice anyone makes regarding vaccination.

Timothy Baumann

Hi Sarah, I believe the CNN article you cited actually refers to NEW vaccination rates, not overall rates. Please see another article referring to the same information:

So this means very recently more of the unvaccinated have become vaccinated because of the recent surge and its effects, not that any surge is caused by more vaccinations.

And, I would have to respectfully disagree with you about why we have seen a recent surge. The surge is completely attributable to the Delta variant--which is 1000 times more transmissible than the original virus-- and now we know, also more deadly-- together with a large, available pool of unvaccinated people who are vulnerable because they are unvaccinated.

The results are predictable. For schools: what will likely happen when you put large groups of unvaccinated people in closed indoor spaces with no protections, perhaps inadequate ventilation and expose them to a variant that is 1000 times more transmissible than an already highly transmissible virus? The answer is unfortunately playing out right now.

I wish everyone the best of luck--but the evidence is clear that for most people if you want to maximize your protection from this horrible virus, you should get vaccinated.

Julie Duhn

Meanwhile back in the classrooms, kids and staff are getting sick. That is not in dispute. Exposing children and staff to covid is not complex - it is WRONG. Full stop. It is wrong and irresponsible.

Sarah Hensley

Yes people are getting sick in the school but masks are NOT the answer. Mask requirements are wrong.

Julie Duhn

And your suggestion would be what? You don't like masks, we get that. You apparently don't believe in vaccination, we get that. Just ignore it and it will go away eventually? Is that your answer to a pandemic, Sarah?

Sarah Hensley

I believe the fastest way out of this situation (not that it would be fast) is to stop vaccinating with the current vaccines. Let our immune systems heal us (most of us have immune systems that can do that), and when a person’s immune system is too weak, let doctors use the medications that appear to work well but that are currently being kept from us. Question the covid protocol hospitals are using in the ICU; it is also suspect.

Everyone should know that being overweight is a major risk factor and should try hard to get their weight under control, which will also decrease the comorbidity of diabetes. Eat well, exercise and don’t hide from the sun.

Whether it turns out that the unvaccinated or the vaccinated end up being more to “blame” for how bad it gets, no one should be denied care, ever. Fire any doctor who has suggested that; they have no business being a doctor.

Stop trusting the government and media and understand that they need to be reigned in and kept in check by we the people. We should all have a voice, even if that seems “dangerous.” I certainly didn’t appreciate having my comment removed from this website last night. Please encourage Times Citizen not to censor our community.

Instagram @sarah.hensley_

Be sure to check out the link in my screenshot.

Sarah Hensley

I will preface this by saying that it is clear that some people will consider what I'm about to share "misinformation," but I think it's reliable enough to share for others to carefully consider.

The scientists and doctors who are not going along with the the government's narrative have been telling us that these vaccines are making the pandemic much worse, and we can expect to see more and more sickness and death, the more the vaccine is administered. They are also suggesting that the vaccinated may be spreading the virus more than the unvaccinated do. At any rate, no one in the censored scientific community is surprised by what is happening.

According to NIH, I think it would be prudent to listen to their theories.

You don't have to believe me, but just so you know there are many HIGHLY qualified but censored scientists and doctors speaking out about this. I want everyone to know that although it is being censored, labeled "misinformation," and fact checkers say it is false, what these scientists are saying is that we need to stop the mass vaccination. I will leave that there for readers to just be aware of and consider.

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