Hardin County public health officials announced six new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday morning.

According to Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health, of the six new cases, one of the patients is age 0-17, one is age 18-40, and four are age 41-60.

Saturday's announcement is the largest single-day jump in the number of local cases to date, and it brings the total number of county cases to 29, despite the fact that the state's coronavirus website is reporting 30 local cases. For days, the state's website has been reporting one more case than local officials are reporting. Hardin County Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents said she's been in contact with the state but hasn't determined the reason for the discrepancy.

Cases in Hardin County have jumped up quickly this week. Last Saturday the county was reporting that there had been 16 cases since March 26. But since Sunday, an additional 13 cases have been diagnosed. 

Scenic Living Communities reported this week that four staff members and two Ashbrook Assisted Living residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Following the first diagnosis last weekend, testing at the senior living campus has expanded to include more staff members and all Ashbrook residents. As testing has expanded, Executive Director Lora Juhl said this week, confirmed cases were expected to increase. Those who test positive are following appropriate isolation protocols.

On Friday, the Casey's General Store on the west end of Washington Avenue in Iowa Falls was closed for cleaning after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19

Employees at both Scenic Living Communities and Casey's General Stores are required to wear face masks at work. In addition, at Scenic Living Communities, employees wear eye protection, answer health screening questions and take their temperatures upon arrival and departure.

For months, public health officials at the state and local levels have repeated the same advice to the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It was reiterated by Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter at a press conference on May 27. It includes:

  • Iowans over age 65 and those with underlying health conditions should continue to stay home as much as possible
  • Continue to practice good social distancing when out and about (stay six feet or more from other people)
  • Wear a mask or other cloth face covering when social distancing is not possible
  • Stay home if you're not feeling well, and seek health care when it’s appropriate
  • Practice good personal hygiene - cover coughs and sneezes and wash your hands frequently
  • Pay attention to and follow the restrictions that are in place when you visit a business or establishment to keep yourself and others as safe as possible

As the local case count has increased, so have questions about whether individuals should be tested.

"Unless people were in close contact, meaning less than six feet away from the positive individual for more than 15 minutes, they shouldn't be too concerned,” said Reents, of Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health. “They should, however, self-monitor for symptoms, check their temperature twice a day, watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever (100.4 or greater) and shortness of breath. 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.

Iowans are also asked to complete a health assessment on the state's TestIowa website. The assessment will ask you to enter information about your health and workplace, and will then give you the option of scheduling a COVID-19 test at a drive-through TestIowa site.

Testing of Hardin County residents has increased this week, likely due to increased testing at Scenic Living Communities. A total of 694 Hardin County residents have been tested for COVID-19. That's 1 of 24 local residents, or about 4.1 percent of the county's total population. Of the county's 29 cases, 11 are reported to have recovered.

Find more information about county and state COVID-19 case numbers, testing, and other data on the state's coronavirus website.

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