May 17, 2022

Jasper County Health Department continues to stay busy with COVID

County COVID numbers increasing since October

An update on COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates was shared for Jasper County during the January board of health meeting. The Jasper County Health Department has continued to stay busy with work related to the pandemic, an ongoing issue coming up on its second anniversary.

“We’ve been busy, as you can imagine, with COVID. We’ve had an increase in communicable diseases. It’s just been a variety of things, I’m not sure why we aren’t seeing any patterns,” Jasper County Public Health Coordinator and registered nurse Kristina Winfield said.

In Jasper County, as of Jan. 12, there are 406 COVID-19 cases. As of Jan. 13, 33.3 percent of those cases are Omicron while the remaining are Delta. In the State of Iowa, about 70 percent of cases are Omicron the department shared.

“To put that in perspective, we are seeing an increase. We have 384 in the month of October, 407 in November and 605 in the month of December and we are already at 406,” Winfield said. “We are seeing an increase, we still have test kits available and we are encouraging vaccination for everybody.”

In the county, as of Jan. 12, there have been 51,629 COVID-19 vaccinations given with a total of 22,763 people vaccinated. One shot has been given 21,063 times and there has been 10,447 booster shots given in the county JCHD Assistant Melissa Gary said.

“It does sound like there is a little work to do to remind folks to get their second shot and/or their booster,” board chair Margo Voshell said.

Voshell asked if the department continues to receive calls from citizens about where to receive the vaccine. Gary said they don’t get a lot of calls about where to get the vaccine but inquiries have increased on where people can find tests.

“We have seen an increase in the number of at-home kits leaving the office. I know this month we have given out more than 50. We have plenty at this time, we have sufficient supplies,” Winfield said. “The test in the health department office are saliva tests, they get mailed through UPS and then the turnaround, they have had an increase, but is usually 24 hours after the state hygienic lab receives them.”

Voshell also asked if it is necessary to get a second confirmatory test at a hospital or clinic if an at-home test comes back positive. Board medical director Dr. Andrew Cope said at-home tests are pretty reliable.

“They do not require a confirmatory PCR test for you to need to stay at home and do your isolation. It should be trusted, especially when resources are limited and we don’t have all of the numbers of PCR tests that we want, I would encourage them not to come in for a confirmatory test,” Cope said.

Released Dec. 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave new guidelines for positive cases or exposure to COVID-19. For those who test positive, everyone, regardless of vaccination status should stay home for five days. After that time, if there are no symptoms or symptoms are resolving after five days, it is OK to leave the house but continue to wear a mask around others for an additional five days. If a fever persists, continue to stay home until the fever resolves.

If exposed to someone with COVID-19, if boosted, have completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last six months or completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last two months, people are recommended to wear a mask around others for 10 days and test on day five, if possible. If symptoms develop, take a test and stay home.

If the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine more than six months ago and are not boosted, completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson more than two months ago and are not boosted or are unvaccinated it is recommended to stay home for five days. and after that continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days. If quarantine is unavailable people must wear a mask for 10 days and test on day five, if possible. If symptoms develop, take a test and stay home.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com