Washington County asks for help as virus cases explode

WASHINGTON — The recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases has Washington County public health officials calling for help.

Washington Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski said she asked the state to help with case investigation.

“We have been unable to keep up,” she said during the Board of Health meeting on Thursday.

Pettit-Majewski said the department is receiving 35 or 40 cases a day. The high volume is causing them to fall behind.

Staff is working every day and putting in extra hours, Pettit-Majewski said. They are still doing a majority of the work but asking for help gave the department a cushion.

“We couldn’t sustain the workload,” Pettit-Majewski said.

Public Health has changed contact tracing. The focus is now on household contacts.

In addition to contact tracing individuals, the staff is working closely with schools and nursing homes.

This has been a challenge because it is time consuming, Pettit-Majewski said.

As of Thursday at 11:30 a.m. 7,981 people have been tested and 1,189 people have had positive results in Washington County.

In the last 14 days there have been 361 cases and in the last seven days there have been 175.

In the county, there are nine patients hospitalized. There have been 620 recoveries and 12 deaths.

There are currently two long-term care outbreaks.

In the Southeast Iowa region, there are 371 people hospitalized, 102 in the ICU and 47 on ventilators

In the last 24 hours, 58 people have been admitted to the hospital.

Pettit-Majewski said in some of the area hospitals and long-term care facilities, the guidance has been changed to allow positive-testing workers to help COVID-19 patients.