Hardin County has four new cases of COVID-19, according to an update of the state's coronavirus website. The cases were reported between Thursday morning and Friday morning.
The new cases increase the county's cumulative case total to 120 since testing began in March. At least 63 of those 120 people have recovered, which means there are currently 57 people still infected with the disease.
Earlier this week Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health announced it would no longer distribute daily case number updates. Since March, it has announced new cases - and those patients' ages - through press releases and posts on the agency's Facebook page. Now, updates will be distributed weekly on Mondays. Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents said the change is being made to eliminate redundancy of information.
"The public can access information on the state's website in real time," she said. "For the most part, the state website has been accurate, and when it's not we get in touch with them and they fix it."
Only two employees at Greenbelt Home Care - Reents and public health nurse Rachel Loyd - are carrying the coronavirus work load at the public health agency. Other than the daily reports, the work they do won't change. In recent weeks that has included more communication with schools and businesses as they prepare to open and take steps to mitigate spread of the disease.
"We're still getting the cases and we're still working with the state. It's just easier to share [case numbers] once a week," Reents said. "Cases are obviously going to continue to increase as testing increases and school is getting back and people are getting out. We're going to continue to see cases going up, so we don't think it's important to share that information every single day."
The state's website includes county-level data on cases, recoveries, deaths and hospitalizations. As of Wednesday, the website was showing three Hardin County residents were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 symptoms. Statewide, hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been on the rise. As of Friday morning, 230 Iowans were hospitalized. That's an increase from a low of 119 on June 28, but still below the state's peak of 417 hospitalizations on May 6.
According to the state, 820 Iowans have died of COVID-19, but that number doesn't include any Hardin County residents.
As of Friday morning, 2,266 Hardin County residents had been tested for COVID-19. That's about 13.4 percent of the population.
Reents cautioned that the lack of daily reports from the county doesn't mean that COVID-19 is over, or that the public can let its guard down.
"It is definitely still a concern," she said on Thursday. "And it is definitely still in our community and it probably will be for a long time."
The public is urged to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That includes:
- 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
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you're instructed to call your health care provider before going into the office. They will walk you through a series of questions and may ask you to report to a testing site. Hansen Family Hospital in Iowa Falls is able to test for COVID-19, but patients should not show up at the hospital. Call the HFH COVID-19 phone number at 641-648-7113 first.