CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker said Thursday the county should be ranked worse than it is on a state scale rating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he urged Gov. Kim Reynolds to work with local public health officials to “get a complete understanding of what the reality is.”
He said Linn County should be scored 11 on a 12-point state scale, where 12 is the worst.
Linn County is part of the northeast Iowa Region 6, which rates a 10 on the scale — the worst ranking among the state’s six health care districts.
The governor’s matrix takes into consideration the percentage of an area’s population older than 65; the percentage of virus cases requiring hospitalization; the rate of confirmed cases per 100,00 population in the last 14 days; and the number of long-term care facility outbreaks.
But Walker noted that even as Linn County’s number of confirmed virus cases increases, the score on the matrix could stay the same.
“We have no way to indicate by her standards we are in greater need of services or resources,” Walker said in a news conference Thursday.
Each measure in the matrix has a maximum score of 3. The governor has said she would consider a restrictive shelter-at-home order for a region when it hits 10.
When Region 6 reached 10, Reynolds ordered further restrictions in the area but did not impose a shelter order.
“We reached a score of 10 one week ago when the governor decided not to delegate the shelter-in-place authority to local government and re-emphasized the need for individuals to practice social distancing,” Walker said.
Walker said he hopes Reynolds considers more than the four datapoints in making decisions “as this pandemic is one of the greatest challenges of our time.”
According to Linn County Public Health, the county had 507 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, with 33 deaths and 241 people recovered.
Unveiling a graph of the data, Walker said he hopes residents can help flatten the curve.
“We are trending upward,” Walker said. “We must be diligent and increase our efforts to meet this challenge.”
While the coronavirus death rate is highest for people older than 60, younger people are not immune to the disease, Walker aid.
A second graph provided by Walker showed the largest age group for confirmed COVID-19 cases in Linn County is between 18 and 40.
“If there is a silver lining to be found, let it be that this crisis reminds us we’re all in this together and we all have a shared stake,” Walker said. “A virus can infect each and every one of us with no regard for our skin color, our age, our religion.
“It doesn’t matter what side of town you live on, who your parents are or whether you root for the Hawks on Saturday. If we do what is hard and what is necessary, we’ll get through this together.”
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