After weeks of minimal COVID-19 spread, the disease’s presence is growing in Hardin County, following state and national trends of increasing infection rates.
According to data released by the Iowa Department of Public Health, there have been 26 new cases of COVID-19 in Hardin County over the last two weeks; 10 were reported May 4-10, and 16 during the week of May 11-17. Sixteen cases is the highest weekly infection rate the state has reported for the county since the week of Feb. 23-March 1, when there were 32 new cases.
Even with the increase in cases, it’s unlikely the state’s report captures the full extent of virus activity in the area. Positive at-home antigen tests, which have become an easy way to check for illness, are not included in the state’s disease reporting. There is no way to report those test results to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
There were no new deaths reported in Hardin County in the last week. The local COVID-19 death toll – from August 2020 through this week – has remained at 62 people for the last seven weeks.
As the infection rate has increased in recent weeks, the community transmission for the county, determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has ramped up to “substantial”, a rating that is reserved for counties that have reported between 50 and 99 new cases per 100,000 population in a single week. During the week of May 4-10 the transmission rate in Hardin County was 59 cases per 100,000 population; for May 11-17, the rate was 95 cases per 100,000. The CDC also issues a community level for each county in the U.S., based on the strain on local health care services. Hardin County's community level is low.
Hospitalizations in Iowa have been on the rise and they continued their increase over the last week. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Wednesday there were 145 people hospitalized in Iowa for treatment of COVID-19. One week earlier, there were 124 hospitalizations, and the week before that there were 86.