Centers for Disease Control mask wearing guidelines issued yesterday do not yet impact people living and working in Linn County.
According to the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map, the local transmission rate is “Moderate,” one ranking below the rate of spread in which expanded mask wearing is recommended. For people in counties with “substantial or high transmission,” rates, the CDC recommends, “fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings.”
Both the county's positivity rate and number of hospital admissions are up substantially on a percentage basis, but remain an overall minuscule number of people at 24.7 per 100,000 testing positive and nine hospital admissions.
During the past two weeks, no one in Linn County lost their life due to the disease.
Jones County to the east is doing better with low transmission while Benton County to the west is seeing higher infection rates than Linn.
Throughout Iowa and the central Great Plains region, the “delta” or B.1.617.2 variant accounts for ninety-five percent of of all variant spread. Investigators first identified this mutation last December in India with the virus appearing three months later in the US.
Overwhelmingly, both the virus spread and hospitalizations occur in unvaccinated people and in states where immunization rates are relatively low. In Linn County, over one half the residents are fully vaccinated with nearly sixty percent receiving at least one vaccine dose. These numbers are six percent higher than the overall state average. Higher inoculation numbers mean less opportunity for disease spread causing debilitating sickness and reducing healthcare system demands.
In contrast to both Linn and Polk counties where spread is moderate, Black Hawk and Story counties homes to UNI and Iowa State respectively are experiencing high levels of infection.
Missouri is a state suffering from high numbers of infections after seeing low vaccination administration. An emergency room in Springfield had COVID patients in the hallways simply because the facility ran out of space causing delays for non-coronavirus patients. Of the ten Iowa counties bordering Missouri, seven fall under the new CDC mask recommendations. Only Tyler, Page and Fremont in the southwestern part of the state do not have significant disease spread.
A tool available in some parts of the United States is the mask mandate, a demonstrably effective way to reduce spread. Parts of California have again started requiring masks in public spaces. Iowa municipalities and school districts, do not have access to that option. Early in the morning of May 20th, Governor Reynolds signed legislation prohibiting schools and cities from imposing mask mandates saying, “Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions.”
At the time, nationally and locally fatalities and in-patient care numbers were declining. Since mid-June, those trends are reversed.
A second means to slow the spread includes requiring immunization. Recently, New York began considering a mandate for its healthcare workers and large private employers including Apple and Google are looking at vaccination as part of working for their companies.