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Positive test rates for COVID-19 down in 7 counties, still 100-plus positive cases for those 0-17

At least for the time being, trends for positive test rates for COVID-19 over the past week are heading in the right direction for much of the North Iowa area. 

Seven counties: Floyd, Hancock, Kossuth, Mitchell, Winnebago, Worth and Wright, saw their numbers drop by anywhere from 1% to 6%. Two other counties, Butler and Cerro Gordo, stayed the same at 7% and 9% respectively, while Franklin County's positive test rate went up by five points and is now at 14% over the past week.

While percentages are down across North Iowa, four counties do still have rates that are at 10% or higher in the most-recent seven day stretch (Franklin, Winnebago, Worth and Wright). Along with Cerro Gordo, Hancock is also just under double digits at 9%. 

"The hospital continues to get hit hard. They’re looking to add more capacity," CG Public Health Director Brian Hanft said on Tuesday morning during a meeting with the county supervisors. As his department continues to deal with responding to positive tests, Hanft said that public health is prepping for how to handle booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine for older Americans and those with heightened vulnerabilities to the virus. 

Last month, the FDA authorized booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine. Next week, the FDA is convening its outside panel of advisers to review booster data from both Johnson & Johnson and Moderna (according to the Associated Press). Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported that Pfizer asked the U.S. government to allow use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11. 

As positive test rates, overall, dipped in North Iowa over the past week, positive cases in the 0-17 age demographic continue to be an issue. In total, there were more than 111 total positive tests for those in that age group in the North Iowa area. Seven out of the 10 counties in the Globe Gazette’s broad coverage area saw their highest numbers among kids.

For Franklin, Kossuth and Wright counties, 33% of the total positive cases were in kids. A quarter of the positive tests in Cerro Gordo County were for people in the 0-17 demographic, which equates to about 31 cases. The other three counties where those between 0 and 17 were the largest drivers of positive COVID-19 cases were Butler, Hancock and Winnebago.

CG Public Health building

CG Public Health building at 2570 Fourth St. SW in Mason City.

According to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health's Coronavirus.Iowa.Gov website, the statewide seven day average is 9.7% for the week of Oct. 5 when the numbers were last updated. 

Through Tuesday, there were 626 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and 141 patients in ICU statewide. The number of admittances over the past 24 hours was at 92 people. The number of ICU beds available was at 201.

51.6% of the state is now fully vaccinated for COVID-19, according to IDPH numbers. Three North Iowa counties, Butler, Cerro Gordo and Wright, have vaccination rates above 50%. 

CG Public Health Director Brian Hanft responds to covid masking and vaccine concerns during a Q&A with the Globe Gazette on Wednesday.

Jared McNett covers local government for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Jared.McNett@globegazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0527. Follow Jared on Twitter at @TwoHeadedBoy98.

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In his life, longtime Mason City resident Hob Mason played with Count Basie, hung out with B.B. King and was a Bandfest grand marshal. He also cut a rarer-than-rare record that can now fetch at least $75. 

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