Updated: Sep 1, 2021
PLEASANTON – Linn County Health Department personnel got an early start to the day on Wednesday, Aug. 25. By 7 a.m. they were testing students for COVID-19, eventually administering 80 tests during the day, according to Tisha Coleman, health department administrator.
Several students were placed in in-school modified quarantine, an option when a student has possibly been exposed to COVID-19 but is not showing any symptoms. Under the test-to-learn quarantine option, the student can return to class but must wear a mask and post negative test results for six days with parental permission.
The other option would be quarantine at home.
All three school districts have policies that “strongly recommend” masks but do not require them. Prairie View USD 362 and Jayhawk USD 346 began their 2021-22 school years last Thursday, and Pleasanton USD 344 started today, Aug. 25.
Coleman said that, based on the amount of testing done on Wednesday, she expected that “school” would soon show up on the county’s weekly list of active cluster types. A library, a camp, and a business remained on the cluster list for a third straight week.
The number of school-age children testing positive for COVID-19 in Linn County continues to rise.
Of the 116 active cases on the department’s Aug. 18 report, 24 cases involved children 10 to 17 years old, up from 19 the previous week. In the birth to 9 age group, 14 children had a positive test, up from 11 a week earlier.
“We’re trying to keep children in school,” Coleman said. “But we need people to help.”
That includes keeping children home if they are ill, getting vaccinations, and wearing a mask where appropriate.
“We’re encouraging people to be smart in making decisions,” the director said.
Overall, the number of new cases testing positive was down this week: 51 new cases compared to 65 a week ago. However, this is the fourth week in a row that 50 or more new cases have been reported every week.
Equally concerning, however, is that officials believe that many cases, particularly those with milder symptoms, are never reported even though those people have the ability to spread the virus. That is particularly true of the Delta variant, which transmits more easily than previous strains.
Two COVID-19 deaths were reported for the Aug. 11 to 18 reporting period – both from the Pleasanton area. One was a man in the 65-to-70-year-old age range. Another was 47 years old, the youngest person yet to die from the virus in Linn County.
“Forty-seven is too young to die,” said Coleman. Particularly when preventative measures including vaccination could have been taken.
She also pointed out that people look for preexisting conditions as an indicator of who might die if they contracted the virus. But she said who gets the disease is still random. Even being fully vaccinated does not fully protect people from getting the virus.
Mound City remained the hot spot over the past week with 36 active cases. Pleasanton was second with 27 active cases, followed by Parker and La Cygne with 15 cases each. Linn Valley had 11 active cases; Centerville, 5; Blue Mound, 4; and Prescott, 3.
In addition to the 38 new cases among children 17 and younger, 44 were in people 18 to 44, 23 were in the 45 to 64 age range, and 11 were in adults older than 65. Seventy-two of the active cases were women, and 44 were men.
The number of hospitalized COVID patients was down to four, two less than last week. None of those cases were in the intensive-care unit or required a ventilator.
The number of Linn County residents completing a two-injection vaccine series increased over the week as well. Nearly 37 percent of residents age 13 and older have now completed the series, up from a little more than 36 percent a week ago. The two-injection series includes the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
About 42 percent of Linn County residents 12 and older have received at least one injection. That could include the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or the first shot of a two-injection series.