Editor's Note: This story was updated at 10 a.m. to include two additional COVID-19 cases.

Public health officials issued a press release Thursday urging local residents to take extra precautions to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19 this holiday weekend. The warning was released as four new coronavirus cases were announced, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 71 since March.

Hardin County Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents reported Thursday afternoon that two more residents - one age 0-17 and the other age 18-40 - have tested positive for the illness. Another two cases were announced Friday morning. One is age 0-17, and one is 18-40.

“Celebrating the Fourth of July may feel a little different this year with COVID-19 considerations, and we want to remind everyone to follow some simple tips to enjoy Independence Day safely,” Reents said in a press release. “There are measures every Iowan can take to protect themselves and those they love from getting sick over this special holiday weekend.”

Those measures include staying home if you feel ill; covering coughs and sneezes; disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact (less than six feet of distance) with people who don't live in your household; covering your mouth and nose with a cloth mask when around others; and washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

As of Friday morning, 34 of the 71 Hardin County COVID-19 patients were reported to have recovered from the illness. As of Wednesday, no Hardin County residents were hospitalized with COVID-19. And while 719 Iowans have died of the disease, no Hardin County residents are included in that total.

A total of 1,799 Hardin County residents have been tested for COVID-19 as of Friday morning. That's one of nine people, or 10.6 percent of the county's population.

In recent weeks, public health officials have warned that many of the new cases being diagnosed in Hardin County, Iowa and across the country are young people, mostly age 25 and younger. That trend has continued in Hardin County. Of the 13 new cases announced in the last week (since Friday, June 26), 11 have been in people between the ages of 0 and 40.

Find more information about state COVID-19 numbers and testing on the state's coronavirus website. The state website has been showing an incorrect case count for Hardin County this week. The issue has been a persistent problem as the state works to input data about patients - including their county of residence.

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