CORONAVIRUS

Jones County COVID-19 numbers almost double in two days

Outbreaks in Anamosa prison, schools and long-term care facility.

The Anamosa State Penitentiary along the Grant Wood Scenic Byway on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The Anamosa State Penitent
The Anamosa State Penitentiary along the Grant Wood Scenic Byway on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The Anamosa State Penitentiary reported 476 inmates have tested positive as well as 37 staffers. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Jones County has been seeing a large spike in COVID-19 cases over the past two days, nearly doubling the county’s total number of cases.

The county saw 390 new cases in a 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m. Friday, following 166 cases in the previous 24 hours, according to data analyzed by The Gazette.

Jones County has seen a total of 1,012 cases through 11 a.m. Friday since the start of the pandemic. Its total number of cases at 11 a.m. Wednesday was 656.

Various facilities in the county are dealing with virus outbreaks as well.

The Anamosa State Penitentiary reported 476 inmates have tested positive as well as 37 staffers. The data also notes that 13 staff have recovered, but no inmates have been reported as recovered yet.

Cord Overton, the communications director for the Iowa Department of Corrections said the prison conducted mass testing after several inmates tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

“The vast majority of inmates have either been asymptomatic or had mild symptoms of COVID-19,” he said. “Those that are experiencing more severe symptoms or are at higher risk of complications due to the virus are given extra medical observation to ensure that if hosptial care becomes necessary, they receive this higher level of care as quickly as possible.”

Overton said that while the facility is experencing the outbreak, it will be held on a restricted movement status to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

“While inmates are allowed out of their cells at least once per day, it can mean significant portions of their days spent in either their own cells, quarantine cells or medical isolation pending on their current status.”

Earlier this week, the Jones County Public Health Department recommended that the Anamosa Community School District move to virtual learning due to Anamosa’s 19,9 percent positivity rate and the county’s 17.2 percent rate at the time.

“We are also at a point where we have several staff members that have either tested positive or have been forced to be in quarantine due to exposure,” a letter from superintendent Larry Hunt reads.

Hunt wrote that the district had 40 percent of custodial staff intact and only about 50 percent of kitchen staff on the job. Two of the district’s 10 bus drivers have also tested positive for the virus and there are no substitutes to fill the driving responsibilities.

Additionally, the district had 6 percent of the teaching staff and 13.4 percent of students out due to COVID-19 illness or exposure as of Nov. 2 according to Hunt’s letter to Iowa Department of Education head Ann Lebo.

The Anamosa Care Center also has its own 36 cases. The long-term care facility was added to Iowa’s virus outbreak list on Friday. This is the first long-term care facility outbreak in Jones County.

Additionally, the Rev. Nick March confirmed to The Gazette on Friday that Mass has been canceled for at least the next week at the Catholic churches in Anamosa, Central City and Prairieburg as March had contact with a parishioner that tested positive for the virus.

March is currently in quarantine, but feeling healthy and has not tested positive himself.

Comments: (319) 398-8255; gage.miskimen@thegazette.com

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