This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

COVID-19 is continuing to spread in Hardin County, and it infected another 21 residents over the last week.

Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health has been reporting new infection totals weekly on Mondays since July. Last week, the agency switched to reporting on Fridays. Between Monday, Sept. 28, and Friday, Oct. 2, it reported 10 new cases. But since Friday, the state’s coronavirus website, which tracks infections per county in real time, has reported another 11 cases in Hardin County.

The 21 new cases over the last week increase Hardin County’s total cumulative infection count to 328 since testing began in March. Of those 328 people, 255 are reported to have recovered and there has been one death. That leaves 72 Hardin County residents currently infected with COVID-19.

COVID by ZIP Code - 10/2/2020

An updated COVID-19 infection map, split by ZIP code, shows cumulative totals for infection in Hardin County by ZIP code. The map was released by Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health on Friday, Oct. 2.

For the last three weeks, the county’s public health agency has released maps with its updates, showing the number of COVID-19 cases per Hardin County ZIP code. The total number of cases represented on the map does not match the total number of cases reported by the county. Hardin County Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents said the state has not given her a reason for the discrepancy.

According to the map, infections in the Ackley ZIP code – 50601 – have increased in recent weeks, and that trend continued last week. The map shows that between Monday and Friday last week, the infection count in and around Ackley increased from 55 cases to 59. That ZIP code is home to about 14 percent of the county’s population, but as of Friday, it had recorded 19 percent of the county’s total COVID-19 infections. The number of cases in the Iowa Falls ZIP code – 50126 – also increased last week, from 91 on Monday, to 95 on Friday. That ZIP code is home to about 36 percent of the county’s population, and it currently has about 31 percent of the county’s COVID infections.

Hardin County’s schools have continued to report new COVID-19 cases. Hardin County’s school districts issue weekly reports about new infections in the districts. The reports, which do not distinguish between cases in students and employees, showed the following new cases last week:

  • Iowa Falls-Alden: 2 cases
  • South Hardin: 1 case
  • AGWSR: 4 cases
  • Ellsworth Community College: 1 case

Last week, Hardin County Emergency Management Coordinator Thomas Craighton provided a COVID-19 update to the Board of Supervisors. During the report he said that cases of the disease have decreased, despite a public health report that showed there had been 27 new cases in the previous week.

“Part of this is people traveling together or doing things together without their social distancing or masking and not knowing,” he told the supervisors during the public meeting. He attributed the increase in cases to “a group that was doing a vacation together.”

After the meeting, Craighton told the Times Citizen that information wasn’t verified, but something that he’d learned from a third party. He said he wants the public to take the virus seriously, but not panic about it.

“What I’m trying to do is keep it in perspective,” he said. He criticized media who report the total number of infections instead of the total number of current infections, with recovered patients taken out of the total.

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