Lyon County Health Officials Discuss High COVID Positivity Rate

Northwest Iowa — According to the latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health, the top two counties in the state — where the results of the most COVID-19 tests are coming back positive — are Lyon and Sioux counties.

The 14-day average positivity rate for Lyon County is 20.9 percent. That means that out of all the tests that have been ordered in Lyon County in the last 14 days, 20.9 percent of them have come back positive for COVID-19. Sioux County isn’t far behind, at 20.5 percent. And the next county south — Plymouth County — is third in the state at 19.1 percent.

According to past statistics from the IDPH, Lyon County hasn’t really seen a large increase in the number of cases. In the last 14 days, they have had about 35 new cases, which works out to an average of 2.5 new cases per day. But those 35 positive results come from only 167 tests.

The director of the Lyon County Health Department — Health Services of Lyon County, Melissa Stillson, says you have to remember what the numbers mean. And this particular metric does not show how widespread the virus is in a community. She says Lyon County has not had an outbreak of any specific kind.

She told us that she believes that people are just beginning to understand more what those symptoms are and they are following public health measures and contacting their physician and that warrants the physician to provide them with the test so they can identify who is positive. But she says at this time, they don’t have anything that is an identifying marker to any specific cause for the higher percentage.

She says too, that the rate is not a daily rate.

(As said:) “So that’s not what our percentage rate is for the day. It’s looking at the last two weeks worth of positive testing data that has come out.”

Stillson says the 14-day average includes the last few days of August, in which there was a small peak in cases. She tells us that they haven’t changed the public health message in regard to COVID, but it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more diligent in washing hands, social distancing, and wearing masks.

According to Stillson, the best advice is if you’re sick, stay home. That’s one of the key things people can do, she says.

(as said:) “If you’re feeling like you’re having a pretty healthy day and you wake up in the morning and you have this cough that came out of nowhere, we would prefer you would stay home for at least 24 hours and see if it goes away or if it worsens, rather than thinking that it might just be a fluke thing, so I’ll just go to work and see if something else happens. Because it can you know… it’s a cough and yes, it can resemble allergies or a cold-season-type illness. But we know that it’s also very much one of those prominent things that are part of COVID-19.”

She tells us they work closely with the schools and the state departments of education and health to make sure that it is okay to keep kids in school. And at this point, she’s not seeing numbers that would indicate that it’s time to switch to online learning.

Since we have seen some entities clamping down on COVID restrictions, we asked her if her office was suggesting those things. She told us they are not, but she thinks people are just starting to become more aware of it.