An outbreak of COVID-19 at the Boys State Training School in Eldora has infected at least five staff members and 12 students.
The outbreak, first reported by the Des Moines Register, was announced by the Iowa Department of Human Services. The first positive test was in a staff member on July 20. Two more staff members tested positive on July 21, and another on July 22. The first positive test among students was last Thursday, July 23.
According to a DHS Facilities COVID-19 Response Summary, the first positive student was removed from his cottage and separated from other students. The cottages at the campus were deep cleaned and disinfected and students were offered masks.
“Nurses are explaining the importance of masks and additional hygiene measures during known positives on campus,” the summary states.
All students, teachers and school personnel are being tested for COVID-19, as are any other staff who were in contact with people who've tested positive.
Among State Training School staff there have been a total of 309 COVID-19 tests performed, and there have been 93 student tests conducted. Those numbers may include multiple tests for some individuals.
Hardin County has seen a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases over the last week. Between July 20 and 27, the county reported 35 new cases, bringing the total number of cases since March to 139. Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health reported the ages of those 35 new patients in its weekly COVID-19 report on Monday. The age breakdown was as follows:
- 15 are age 0-17
- 10 are age 18-40
- 7 are age 41-60
- 3 are age 61-80
Hardin County Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents said any students at the Boys State Training School whose address is the school in Eldora would count as Hardin County cases if they test positive for COVID-19. Staff who test positive for the disease would be added to the COVID-19 case total in their county of residence.
The DHS summary reports that guardians of State Training School students are being notified of the positive test results. Staff at the school are currently not re-using PPE (personal protective equipment. They’re required to use surgical, procedural or N95 masks only. Cloth masks are not allowed. And nurses are reportedly doing spot checks to ensure proper PPE use.
The State Training School, which was in Phase 2 of reopening (in-person visitation allowed in exterior or isolated areas), and was preparing to enter Phase 3 of reopening on July 21, is now in Phase 1. That means on-campus visits are suspended, but virtual visits are available.
In total, Hardin County has seen 139 COVID-19 cases since March. At least 68 of those people have recovered, which means there are 71 Hardin County residents still infected with the disease.
On Tuesday the state was reporting that 836 Iowans have died of COVID-19. No Hardin County residents are included in that total. Hardin County is one of 28 (out of 99) Iowa counties that have seen no deaths from the disease.