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

Hardin County set another record last week for new COVID-19 cases in a seven-day period, continuing a trend that began last month and threatens to continue if Iowans don't heed the advice of health care and government leaders.

Between Monday, Nov. 2 and Monday, Nov. 9, another 147 Hardin County residents tested positive for COVID-19. On Monday, Nov. 2, the state website was reporting a total of 558 cases. On Monday, Nov. 9, the state's coronavirus website was reporting 705 cases of COVID-19 in Hardin County since testing began in March. Of those 705 cases, 377 are classified as recovered and eight people have died of the disease. That leaves 302 people currently infected with the illness.

Hardin County COVID-19 Cases

As of Monday, Nov. 9, the Iowa Department of Public Health was reporting 705 COVID-19 cases since testing began in March. A surge in cases that began in October is showing no signs of easing. 

As COVID-19 case numbers have grown across the state, so have hospitalizations. The state set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday with 1,034 Iowans currently in the hospital. It’s the first time the number of hospitalizations in Iowa has exceeded 1,000, and it is the 15th day that the state has set a record for hospitalizations. As of Nov. 7, no Hardin County residents were hospitalized.

At a press conference last Thursday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds pleaded with Iowans to do what they can to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect health care workers and vulnerable Iowans.

“For the next three weeks, at least, I am asking Iowans to make every effort to help us stop the spread of COVID-19,” Reynolds said at her first press conference in a month. “It’s critical right now that we work together to protect those who are most vulnerable to serious illness and continue do everything we can to preserve our health care resources. Including the doctors and nurses who care for COVID patients.”

She implored Iowans to wear masks, social distance, wash their hands frequently and stay home when they're ill. She also advised Iowans to think carefully about whether indoor gatherings are necessary, especially as the weather turns colder.

Ackley outbreak grows

Some of the increase in local COVID-19 cases has likely come from outbreaks at two Hardin County nursing homes. On Oct. 12, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported an outbreak at Hubbard Care Center. It is unclear when the first cases there were detected; Administrator Angie Kuda-Bruns has declined to comment. To date, 59 people have been infected, and 27 of them are classified as having recovered, the state reports.

Grand JiVanté reported an outbreak in its Ackley facility late last month. Social media posts by CEO Korey DeBerg indicate at least 19 residents and “around 10” employees have tested positive for COVID-19. One resident has reportedly died of the disease. The Iowa coronavirus website reports only 12 infections, but the website often takes several days to update numbers of cases in long term care facilities.

COVID in the schools

As case numbers have increased county-wide, so have the number of cases in Hardin County’s schools. While the schools at Iowa Falls-Alden, South Hardin and AGWSR require students and staff to wear masks or face coverings while they’re in the buildings, school officials have said spread of the disease outside the buildings is contributing to an increase in numbers.

The schools release infection updates every Friday. Their Nov. 6 updates reported the following new cases:

  • Iowa Falls-Alden: 3
  • South Hardin: 5
  • AGWSR: 7

Ellsworth Community College reports it had eight new cases among students last week. It's the first time since September that the new case count has been less than double digits.

Eldora Children's Center remains closed this week after several member of the child care center's staff tested positive for the disease last week. The center's board met last Thursday and approved a new rule requiring everyone over the age of 2 to wear a face covering. The child care center will be closed until next Monday, as ordered by the Iowa Department of Human Services and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health, which has been releasing coronavirus updates and updated ZIP code infection maps every Friday, did not issue an update on Nov. 6.

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