Cases on a seesaw pattern

Thursday, April 15, 2021

PLYMOUTH CO. — Plymouth County is currently in sixth place for COVID-19 positive tests in the last seven days, according to the www.coronavirus.iowa.gov dashboard as of Thursday morning, April 8.

Plymouth County is at 9 percent in positive tests for the seven day average, down from 13 percent reported on Tuesday, Apr. 6.

Fremont County is first in the state at 16 percent, while Dickinson County comes in at 13 percent.

Plymouth County Public Health Manager Tara Geddes said, “We have had an uptick in cases and positivity rate over the last couple weeks and now that vaccination is open to anyone over age 16 in Iowa we are encouraging all residents to get vaccinated. We had gotten up to 15 percent.”

“Today (Thursday, Apr. 8) is pretty reflective of over the past two weeks,” she said as far as age group percentages.

“Twenty-five percent of our cases today are in the 40-49 range, but when you look over all age groups, over half of our cases are from ages 18-49,” she said.

Geddes said she could only speculate about the uptick in positive cases.

“I’m sure this group would not have been eligible, until just last week, for vaccination unless eligible through employment options or underlying medical conditions,” she said. “So this group doesn’t have a high vaccination rate yet, which I assume would be a large part of it,” she said. “And obviously, restrictions have been pulled back and we’re having more group gatherings and events occurring throughout the state and nation and I’m sure that has a lot to do with it as well.”

As of April 5, Iowa allowed those age 16 and up to receive the vaccination.

“Those ages 16-18 can only get the Pfizer vaccine, while those 18 and older can get Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson,” Geddes said.

Floyd Valley Healthcare offers vaccine clinics on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“The times vary, so I encourage everyone to go to floydvalley.org and then click on the red link and you can see the times for each of the clinics,” she said.

Some days, depending on the number of individuals scheduled, clinics start about 9 a.m., and go to 1 p.m., while other days they could go to 5 or 6 at night.

“I encourage them to check there for the latest update on time, but every Wednesday and Thursday we offer those,” she said.

Age does not matter in how COVID-19 affects a person.

“We’re encouraging everybody to get vaccinated. We want them to get vaccinated for themselves, because we do know that there are a percentage of people that, even with mild symptoms, can have lifelong issues or kind of permanent damage from a COVID infection,” Geddes said. “We also want them to get vaccinated so they can protect others around them. So get it to protect them from getting the illness, their grandparents, and parents, and coworkers.”

Geddes said Plymouth County still does testing for COVID-19.

“We don’t have the Test Iowa site but testing is being done through the clinics throughout Plymouth County,” she said. “The majority of our positive cases are symptomatic individuals who come in for a test.”

Geddes said contact tracing is still done by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

“They have a contract employee so every positive case we do contact tracing on,” Geddes said.

Geddes said it is too early to tell if younger residents will come in for the vaccine.

“We just opened up to this younger group that wasn’t eligible before so I don’t know that I can answer that yet. It’s probably too early in that process to say they aren’t wanting to get it. We certainly have people signing up for the vaccine, and we have more vaccine available so we still have appointments available as well. But I don’t think I would have really an answer to that yet. I think time will tell,” Geddes said.

According to Geddes, during the last opening, for those under age 64 with underlying medical conditions, Plymouth County had a large acceptance rate.

As of Thursday, Apr. 8, Plymouth County had 6,064 individuals considered fully vaccinated.

“I’m guessing that’s about 25-26 percent of our total population,” Geddes said.

To date, Plymouth County residents received a total of 13,600 vaccine doses.

“I think we’re doing great as a county and we appreciate everybody stepping up and wanting to get the vaccine so we can get back to some normalcy within the county and scale back on mitigation efforts,” Geddes said. “We’re appreciative every week that we continue to increase that number of individuals that are fully vaccinated and we want to continue to encourage those now that it’s open, to sign up for that vaccine.

“We have adequate doses in Plymouth County and have reoccurring clinics every Wednesday and Thursday for Moderna vaccine. As we have allotments of Johnson & Johnson vaccine we will hold clinics but we do not know when our next shipment will be for this particular vaccine. There is also Pfizer vaccine being offered through local pharmacies,” Geddes said.

Even with more being vaccinated, people should still take precautions.

The CDC still encourages masking, and masking when social distancing cannot occur, and continue social distances with individuals outside your household, Geddes said.

“And obviously, as we’ve said from the beginning, stay home when you’re sick. So if you’re having any symptoms, especially with spring coming up, and allergy type-symptoms are occurring, if you have any respiratory symptoms at all, please stay home.”

So what is the goal for Plymouth County as far as the percentage of residents vaccinated?

“It’s hard right now because it’s not open for kids, so there’s a large portion of our children that aren’t eligible, to get to where we’d like to be. Seventy percent would be what is considered a herd immunity. We can’t get there until that vaccine licensure is extended to pediatric patients,” Geddes said. “So my goal right now is that each week we continue to increase the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals and get education out there on the importance of vaccinating.”