The most recent report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force has moved Hardin County from the orange zone to the red zone for COVID-19 cases, indicating high levels of community transmission of the disease.
The reports are issued weekly and sent to government leaders in each state. The Iowa Department of Public Health has released some of the reports, but others have been released by media. ABC News obtained the reports dated Oct. 18.
Red zone designation is reserved for states and counties that have 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population in a one-week time period. According to the report, Iowa had 238 new cases per 100,000 population Oct. 10-16, compared to a national average of 117 cases per 100,000. Of Iowa’s 99 counties, 49 qualified for the red zone.
“Mitigation efforts must be strengthened in areas with increasing cases and test positivity,” the report states. “These should include mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, avoiding crowds in public and social gatherings in private, and ensuring flu immunizations.”
The report is based on the data from Oct. 10-16. According to the state’s coronavirus website, during that one-week period, Hardin County recorded 53 new COVID-19 cases. The county has seen a spike in cases since Oct. 7.
On Oct. 12, the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website reported an outbreak at Hubbard Care Center. As of Thursday morning, Oct. 22, the website was reporting that a total of 31 people at the nursing home have tested positive for the disease, and two have recovered. It is unclear how many of those people are residents and how many are employees. Hubbard Care Center Administrator Angie Kuda-Bruns declined to comment.
Ellsworth Community College has also seen an increase in cases among students. The college, which releases the number of new COVID-19 cases among students every Monday, has reported 35 cases over the last two weeks.
As of Thursday, Iowa’s coronavirus website was reporting a total of 446 COVID-19 cases in Hardin County since testing began in March. Five Hardin County residents have died of COVID-19, and at least 295 people have recovered. That leaves 146 Hardin County residents currently infected with the disease. As of Oct. 20, three Hardin County residents were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force report recommends that for counties in the red and orange, “public and private gatherings should be as small as possible and optimally, not extended beyond immediate family”.