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Cerro Gordo COVID-19 cases over 400, two additional deaths reported
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Cerro Gordo COVID-19 cases over 400, two additional deaths reported

From the Stories of the week from the Globe Gazette series
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Patterson family

Klinton and Lynn Patterson with their three children Samuel, Jacob and Megan. Klinton Patterson was recently discharged from the MercyOne North Iowa Critical Care Unit after experiencing complications due to COVID-19. 

Less than a week ago, on Wednesday, July 15, the total number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cerro Gordo County was at 349. 

On Friday, July 17, that ticked up to 388 total cases. 

Now, three days later, the total for Cerro Gordo County sits at 441 lab-confirmed cases based on data maintained by the Iowa Department of Public Health. Of those 440, 105 are listed as "recovered."

Along with that, in the past week-plus, the total number of reported deaths has gone from one to 13, with the latest being added just over the weekend.

Cerro Gordo County COVID-19 trendline

Part of the trend is owed to the county's mobile testing unit logging several hundred tests a day in recent days and weeks, but that comes as the positive test rate for the county is hanging above what it was at the start of the month.

In early July, the positive test rate was at 3.7%. Now it's averaging about 6% in the most recent days which is down from the 29% positive rate seen for July 12.

"This is going to continue. At this rate, we’re going to have 1,000 cases in a month," Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health Director Brian Hanft said.

According to him, the department is currently going 100 miles per hour just trying to keep up with the case calling.

"If you’re a positive case and we get notification, we’re picking up the phone and calling you to let you know what obligations are for quarantine."

That kind of work is particularly important right now, as Hanft confirmed a large degree of what CG Public Health is seeing is owed to community spread.

More severely: From May through early July, there had only been one confirmed death from COVID-19 in Cerro Gordo County. 

But since then, there have been 12 more deaths related to the virus.

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In a press release, Cerro Gordo Public Health reported that one of those deaths was someone in the 61-80 age range, while others were people 80 and older. 

As that's happened locally, there's been a slow uptick in deaths statewide as well. The total number for Iowa now sits at 797 which is 14 more than a week ago and almost 400 more than mid-May when the number was around 400. That said, it's important to note that reporting on new deaths from relevant state and federal health departments has been taking as long as a week and the same can be true for reporting on positive tests. 

"Our hearts go out to the families that are losing people but when you see an uptick in the number of cases, you’re going to see an uptick in the number of deaths," Hanft said.

The current situation at the local level has caused some disruptions in recent days.

Newman Catholic Childcare and Preschool

Positive COVID-19 cases in children attending Newman Childcare and Preschool has caused the facility to close for two weeks.

On Sunday morning, Newman Catholic Childcare and Preschool announced that it would be closed for two weeks because of a second confirmed case COVID-19. That announcement came just a few days after the program confirmed its first case of COVID-19. In both cases, Newman Childcare and Preschool staff notified parents and consulted with CG Public Health as well as the Department of Human Services.

"The health and safety of the families we serve and our staff is our top priority," staff posted on Facebook. The recommendation for a two-week closure came from CG Public Health, but the final decision was ultimately one for Newman Catholic. 

As of now, the first day of school for Newman is set for August 24.

As for positive trends or numbers to point to or build on, Hanft said that it was hard to wrangle many. 

He's not just worried about the start of school season during all of this, but a looming flu season that will only add to the pressure. "In the next three to four months, we’ve got a lot of work to do trying to keep people vaccinated for the flu."

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

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