Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
With schools starting their new year next week, Henry County Public Health officials are apprehensive about COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin told the Board of Health Tuesday that the guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health does not give public health departments many mitigation tools.
“They’ve really relaxed a lot of the requirements,” Van Dorin said. “There’s really not a lot we can do except for keeping household contacts home.”
Van Dorin explained that IDPH is not doing contact tracing, and schools, by law, are not allowed to require face masks.
“Our hands are pretty tied,” she said. “There is no longer contact tracing.”
She said that the lack of contact tracing in the schools worries her.
“You have a positive person who sits with seven people in the day, and they sit with seven more people in the day, and there’s no contact tracing,” she said. “If the absentee rate gets over 10 percent, then we will have to do some more things. If they are 10 percent, we will have to notify the Iowa Department of Public Health.
“I’m thinking that’s going to happen pretty quickly with no contact tracing and no masks.
Overall in Henry County, cases continue to rise.
Van Dorin reported that the hospital for the region has 95 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 35 in the intensive care unit and 15 on ventilators.
“The delta variant is causing havoc,” she said. “We have a 7 percent positivity rate.”
The good news is vaccinations are picking up.
“Vaccinations are getting better,” Van Dorin said. “The last week of July, we gave 16. The first week of August, we gave 38. Last week, we gave 39.”
The Henry County Health Department is offering walk-in vaccinations daily from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
“We let them walk in at any time,” Van Dorin said. “If they feel the need to get vaccinated, we don’t want them to have to wait.”