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

The recent surge of new COVID-19 cases grew over the last week with 55 new Hardin County infections reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health. The state’s weekly COVID-19 update, posted on Wednesday afternoon, shows the numbers of infections and hospitalizations across the state have increased as the more contagious delta variant of the virus spreads.

Also on Wednesday, the state reported 42 additional deaths of Iowans due to COVID-19, including one in Hardin County. The Iowa Department of Public Health reports that those deaths occurred over a four-week period from July 24 to Aug. 22. In total, 45 Hardin County residents have died of COVID-19 since August 2020.

Iowa CDC Map

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes a map that shows the COVID-19 transmission rate for every county in the United States. The map of Iowa, as of Aug. 24, 2021, is pictured above. Masks are recommended in public indoor places located in red counties (areas of high transmission) and orange counties (areas of substantial transmission).

Hardin County’s 55 new cases in the last seven days equates to 326 cases per 100,000 population – a metric that’s used by health officials to gauge transmission levels. According to guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in places where there have been 100 or more cases per 100,000 population in the previous seven days, people should be wearing face masks when they’re inside public places, regardless of vaccination status.

As of Wednesday, a total of 2,076 Hardin County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020. Of those, 1,880 are reported as having recovered and 45 local residents have died. That leaves 151 known active cases of the disease in Hardin County. The number of active cases has grown each week over the last month. Recent weekly active case counts have been as follows: 

  • July 28: 25 cases
  • Aug. 4: 55 cases
  • Aug. 11: 100 cases
  • Aug. 18: 112 cases
  • Aug. 25: 151 cases
COVID-19 Infections by Age Hardin County

A chart on the Iowa Department of Public Health coronavirus website shows the breakdown of ages of the COVID-19 cases reported among Hardin County residents in the seven days before Aug. 25, 2021.

The Iowa Department of Public Health does not provide detailed information about the people who have tested positive for COVID-19, but a chart on the Iowa coronavirus website shows that of the new cases reported in the last seven days, the greatest share – 26 percent – are 0-17 years old. Twenty-three percent are 18-29 years old.

As of Wednesday, 498 Iowans were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, up from 396 one week earlier, and 133 Iowans were in ICUs, up from 99 one week ago. In a press release issued Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported that “The majority of current COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated Iowans.” According to the state, 87 percent of those hospitalized are age 40 and older. Children under the age of 18 account for 2 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations. County-specific COVID-19 hospitalization data is published by the state on Thursdays.

Infections reported in long term care facilities

As cases of COVID-19 have surged in Iowa, infections have increased in the state’s long term care facilities. Two weeks ago, two long term care facilities were classified as having outbreaks of the disease – defined as three or more infections. On Wednesday, there were eight reported outbreaks.

Earlier this summer, the Iowa Department of Public Health changed the way it reports on outbreaks of COVID-19 at long term care facilities. It no longer lists the facilities that are in outbreak status, only the total number of outbreaks in the state.

This week, Hubbard Care Center Administrator Angie Kuda-Bruns confirmed to the Times Citizen that there have been cases of COVID-19 at that facility, but she declined to release the number of infections. The Iowa Capitol Dispatch reported on Thursday that there have been seven cases of the disease at the care center.

Grand JiVanté used a social media post this week to announce that it has identified one COVID-19 case among its residents. The facility has isolated the person who tested positive, and is halting visits to the facility for 14 days.

Officials urge vaccination

Vaccinations have continued to increase in Hardin County over the last week, and the county saw the largest seven-day growth since mid-June. Between Aug. 18 and 25, 124 Hardin County residents became fully inoculated against COVID-19. Of those new inoculations, 49 were a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson), and 75 received a second dose of a two-dose vaccine.

In total, 7,835 Hardin County residents have been fully vaccinated. That’s 46.4 percent of the total county population. An additional 559 people have received the first dose of a two-dose vaccine.

Local and state officials continue to promote the vaccines, especially following the announcement this week that the Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval.  

"We have many tools we need to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and the single most important tool we have is the vaccine, which is highly effective at prevention serious illness, hospitalization and death," Iowa Department of Public Health interim director Kelly Garcia said this week. "For anyone who was waiting for the assurance of full FDA authorization, I urge you to schedule your appointment today."

ZIP code data shows local COVID hot spots

Last Friday, Hardin County Public Health released data showing COVID-19 infection numbers for each ZIP code in the county. According to that data, which reported numbers through Friday morning, Aug. 20, the New Providence ZIP code was reported as having the most new cases per capita with 10 total in one week. The Ackley ZIP code had the second-most cases per capita with 13 in one week, and the Iowa Falls ZIP code recorded 11 new cases in a week. Only the Steamboat Rock ZIP code reported no new cases in the week between Aug. 13 and Aug. 20.

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