From the Desk of Palo Alto County Public Health
Over the past few weeks, we have enjoyed a slight decrease in the COVID numbers in our county. As I am currently writing this, our numbers are starting to creep back up again. This puts us at the highest in our nine-county area, at 10% positivity rate. Even though the Governor has relaxed the mask mandate for Iowa, Palo Alto County is continuing the mask mandate in all situations in our community. We strongly encourage businesses to uphold this mask mandate by requiring your patrons to have masks on to enter your business.
As the Emmetsburg community gears up for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration, we urge each of you to take COVID and the mask mandates into consideration as you make plans to host or attend events. We do not want the luck of the Irish to turn into bad luck by spreading this virus, so please stay home if you have been exposed to a positive case in the past 10 days or are not feeling well. Remember that most people who have COVID will only experience mild symptoms such as a headache, runny nose, congestion or other mild cold symptoms. While COVID symptoms may be very mild for you, they could be life-threatening to someone you spread it to.
Vaccinations are in full swing in our county. We continue to work on vaccinating the Phase 1B, tier 1 group which is 65 and older, first responders, PreK-12 school staff and childcare workers. Public Health has completed vaccination for 1/3 of the school staff in the county. We continue to receive 100 doses a week, which is expected to continue through the month of February. We plan to continue splitting these doses between the 65 and older population, and the school staff, within the county. This will continue until school staff vaccination is completed and/or more doses begin arriving weekly.
Our next public clinic is going to be held at the Graettinger Family Practice Clinic. The date of that clinic is Friday, March 5 from 8 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This clinic will be open to all individuals who are 65 and older from Palo Alto County. The appointments for this clinic will be scheduled by phone only.
Our call center will be open Monday, March 1st at 1pm to schedule 100 appointments. Phone calls will be accepted until all appointments are full or until 4:30 that afternoon. Using this system, the first 100 calls that make it through will be scheduled. The phone numbers to call are 712-852-5422, 712-852-5518 or 712-852-5512. Please know that if the phone just rings and no one is answering, it is because we are already on the line with another caller; we are not ignoring your calls. Also, we will not have time to check voicemails during this time, so we ask that no voicemails regarding vaccine scheduling be left. Instead, continue to redial the numbers.
We understand that this process can be frustrating and ask for continued patience and understanding as we work through this current vaccination phase. We also understand that 100 doses a week is a small amount of vaccine compared to the number of people wanting it. We are doing our best to ensure doses get out to qualifying people each week.
Please follow our Facebook page for any additional information or changes.
Stay healthy, Palo Alto County by wearing your masks, social distancing and staying home when sick.
Director of Public Health for Palo Alto County