homepage logo

Board of Supervisors, Public Health Discuss COVID Surge in Palo Alto County

By Joseph Schany - | Nov 12, 2020

by Joseph Schany

“As of this morning, Nov. 10, we have 79 active cases of COVID-19 in Palo Alto County,” began Sarah Strohman, Palo Alto County Public Health, providing an update on COVID to the Board of Supervisors during Tuesday’s regular session meeting in Emmetsburg. “We are up to 426 total COVID cases.”

According to Strohman, the current county positivity percentage has risen to 15.6%, though that number may be deceptive.

“On average we tested 25 people every morning last week just in the drive-up,” said Strohman. “Yesterday we tested 38 people. When we are testing that many it is going to dilute our overall percentage, but at this time, 90% of the state is above 15% for COVID activity.”

Throughout the U.S., hospitals and health care workers are dealing with the consequences of skyrocketing coronavirus cases in their communities, and according to Strohman, Palo Alto County is no different.

“Available hospital beds are getting lower. There is definitely concern that people who come in very ill with COVID we may be extremely limited as to where we can possibly send them. Some of them are going to be staying here in Emmetsburg now, but our biggest concern at this point is being able to get these people medical care.”

Strohman pointed out that Palo Alto County has been somewhat fortunate up to now compared to other counties in Iowa that have struggled to contain the illness.

“Our hospitalization rate is not huge,” Strohman said, “and we’ve only had two deaths in the county so far.”

Board Chair Roger Faulstick asked, “What about prevention?”

“I’ve been visiting with the schools,” replied Strohman. “Yesterday I spoke with Darren Hanna, the superintendent here in Emmetsburg. We have roughly 100 kids out of school in Emmetsburg with between 15-20 active cases of COVID among students. The rest are quarantined at home due to exposure. We discussed looking at the possibility of shutting down any unnecessary activities where groups of people would be gathered. Little E-Hawk Wrestling is canceled for now just to see how things go. They are also going to look at closing open gym and things like that to avoid unnecessary gathering.”

Continued Strohman, “I visited with all of the other school districts in our county and they are not nearly as high in numbers as what Emmetsburg is right now. West Bend-Mallard was about 5% absentee on Monday and they would need to get to 10% before we are even at a point where we report to the state. Graettinger-Terril and Ruthven-Ayrshire are also doing okay.”

“But how many cases did you report two weeks ago?” asked Supervisor Linus Solberg. “We were at 320-something and now we are at 426, so we are over 100 cases in two weeks?”

Replied Strohman, “We are definitely seeing a pretty widespread community spread.”

Read the full article in The Democrat.