The Wayne County Board of Health held an online Zoom meeting on May 6 for all board members. Those unable to use the videoconference system called in by phone.

In recent days the number of positive Covid-19 cases has spiked tremendously with well over 11,000 positive cases confirmed statewide along with 244 deaths as of May 8. Locally, Wayne County remains with only one positive case, however the BOH is continuing their work to keep our community healthy and safe.

In recent weeks it was acknowledged Iowa would see a peak in their cases during the first two weeks of May.

“Is there any validity to reports on the news saying Iowa is pushing back the peak until the beginning of June now?” asked BOH member Clayton Merritt.

“It is based on the Washington model and it was assuming we were going to lift restrictions,” said Dr. Joel A. Wells D.O. “So yes there is some validity to that. That model was taking into account whether certain businesses were closed or open and if there is a change in the measures the state is doing then it changes the model. They have been pretty accurate so far predicting when peaks would happen, but they also give themselves a wide range.”

“When the governor announced restrictions were being lifted and businesses could begin reopening, there was some advice that may have been missed,” Dr. Wells began. “That advice was if you are older, stay home. If you don’t have to go somewhere, then don’t. There is still the need for Iowans to remain socially distant and I think that message got lost among the thought we were able to do this or that again.”

“We as the local board of health need to take a stance to remind people there is plenty of Covid-19 out there and it’s a good idea for people to really be careful on how many people they see, where they go and make sure they are still taking good precautions such as hand washing and social distancing.”

“We are in a group of 77 counties that has been considered less affected but we don’t want to push our luck,” Dr. Wells added. “Wayne County is lucky right now, but our advice needs to be to be careful especially if you are older.”

“I do think people have business they need to do but they need to ask themselves if it needs to be done in person or can it be done differently through the phone or online,” said Dr. Wells. “Wayne County is one of the less affected places in the state and we hope we remain that way.”

Wayne County Public Health Administrator Shelley Bickel advised she is receiving fabric facemasks weekly from the Amish community. Each week she is collecting roughly 100 masks from the women and is able to distribute them to those needing masks in our community.

“David (Rhodes) has touched based with the restaurants for reopening and has gone over the guidelines with them,” Bickel stated.

“How are they enforcing the 50 percent capacity rule?” asked Dr. Wells.

“I’ve been to the La Bota Mexican restaurant and I have spoken to the Steel Wheel and they are taping off tables and booths to enforce it,” Bickel answered. “They are also limiting the number of people at a table. Most of them are still doing curbside and take-out also.”

“Casey’s employees have also started wearing masks now also,” Bickel advised. “I also am in contact each week with the nursing home, assisted living and the three big businesses and they have all requested cloth masks for their workers. They are all practicing social distancing and East Penn and DairiConcepts are taking temperatures as well.”

Bickel informed the board if an outbreak would occur at one of the large businesses, the plan is to handle locally versus having a strike team with the National Guard coming in for testing.

“They did a survey last week and a lot of public health offices don’t want to do their own surveillence but I chose to do it because then we have the control,” said Bickel. “Unless we would have a large number like 500, I think I can handle it. I’m one of the few public healths that chose to stay in control of that so I hope I did alright there, but I think we can do it.”

Bickel also informed the board new guidance has been given from the state on positive case investigations.

“Air Filtration has also been making masks and I have picked up 50 of them and I am hoping to pick up another 50,” Bickel said. “We are using them in our home health care client’s homes. They will make more this summer if we need them this fall.”

The board reminds the public their meetings are open to the public and anyone wishing to join the next meeting on Wednesday, May 20 at 8:30 a.m. can do so by phone. If wishing to join or listen in to the meeting, they are advised to contact Bickell at her office at least 24 hours in advance at (641) 872-1167.

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