COVID-19 local update
Thu, 11/19/2020 - 8:50am admin
Marcie Klomp ~ News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
DES MOINES - Positive COVID-19 cases in the state of Iowa have been on the rise since the end of October. Up until then, the rate was pretty steady, with a big spike taking place in mid-April and another spike in late August.
Because of that, at a press conference on Nov. 10, Gov. Kim Reynolds tightened the requirements for masks and meeting in groups.
The mandate for wearing face coverings did not apply to schools, churches or the January Iowa legislative session.
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Less than a week later, sh held a state-wide, prime-time press conference at 6:05 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16, Reynolds gave a new proclamation, requiring indoor social, community, business and leisure gathers or events to be limited to 15 people, and limited to 30 for outdoor gatherings. This includes wedding and funeral receptions and family gatherings.
In addition, restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, bingo halls, and indoor playgrounds are required to close at 10 p.m. and cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people. Masks must be worn by staff who have direct contact with customers, and customers must wear masks when they are not seated at their table to eat or drink. The proclamation also requires masks inside casinos.
The proclamation requires that when people are in an indoor public space, and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer, masks are required to be worn. The same requirements apply to visitors and employees inside State buildings. Additional mask requirements are imposed for certain specific establishments and gatherings.
This went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17 and will continue until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2020.
Due to a rise in absences over the past few weeks, Howard-Winneshiek Supt. Ted Ihns and administrators are starting a hybrid learning system from Nov. 16 through Dec. 4. At that time, it may continue or end.
On Nov. 13, Ihns explained, “Over the past two weeks or so, there were under 15 students who tested positive [for COVID-19]. At the same time, there were over 150 students (which is 13% of the student body) who had to stay home because they were exposed to those students.”
Twice, the Howard-Winneshiek School Board voted not to require masks. In a previous proclamation, Reynolds stated schools who had a mask mandate could allow students who had been in close proximity to a positive student to still attend school. If neither were wearing masks, all students associated with the positive ones had to be quarantined.
The hybrid learning will allow students to attend school every-other day. For the most part, students with last names starting with A-L will attend school Mondays, Wednesdays and every-other Friday, while students M-Z will go on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every-other Friday.
Those not attending class will still have lessons to follow at home. Each student does have his or her own laptop.
Meals will still be offered to any student in the How-Winn CSD. Students can take a sack breakfast/lunch home after having lunch on the days they attend classes. Otherwise, someone can pick up the breakfast/lunch meals at the school.
Ihns noted that since there will be fewer students in the classroom, social distancing will be easier to follow.
“Our goal is have all our kids in class. We want to be back in person. We need to take care of the full school community, not just the school. We’re all in this together,” the superintendent added.
Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School is reliant on transportation of its students by How-Winn buses.
Principal Katie Schmitt said the school is requiring masks if students are unable to maintain a six-ft. mandatory distancing. That includes during music and in the halls, as well as classrooms with a higher number of students.
Diane Trende of Regional Health Services of Howard County gave a short update on what is happening in the area.
“RHSHC continues to monitor and respond to local COVID-19 activity. Just like throughout the state, Howard County cases continue to increase, and the local health system is experiencing the impact.”
As of Nov 13, she noted, “As a county, we have seen approximately 89 new positive cases across the county in the last two weeks. We continue with long-term care outbreaks and have one facility currently listed in outbreak status.”
As of Nov. 16, that facility is the Patty Elwood Center with 23 positive cases and nine recovered. Evans Memorial Home was the only other nursing home in Howard County that had an outbreak.
The Iowa Department of Public Health dashboard lists nine deaths of Howard County residents attributed to COVID-19 on Nov. 16.
Two weeks ago, during the Oct. 28 Community Call, it was announced there were 13 deaths in the county, and now there are 17 death certificates attributed to the disease. But the state IDPH still only lists nine. It is unclear when the extra numbers will catch up to the state total.
On Nov. 16, the number of beds in the state being used for COVID-19 patients was at 1,392. When asked about the beds available, no specific figure was given to the Times Plain Dealer. “The clinical team daily reviews bed capacity. This is fluid and can change rapidly.”
The CNN network visited the facility on Monday. The segment was supposedly airing on Tuesday, at 3 and 6 p.m.
Trende did explain RHSHC has rapid testing capabilities with limitations. “If you are directly exposed, asymptomatic and interested in testing, we recommend the use of a Test Iowa site. If you become symptomatic, please contact your provider,” she said.
In the past few weeks, national news reports have stated at least two different COVID-19 vaccines are nearly ready to be distributed. It is hoped this will slow and eventually end the spread of the virus.