Allamakee County sees second most cases in a week since pandemic began; ACSD announces first cases

For the second consecutive week, Allamakee County recorded new confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers that have not been seen since the spring of this year. The case count of 31 new cases from the past week’s timeframe of Tuesday, September 8 through Monday, September 14 is the second most since the county’s highest total of 32 cases was recorded during the week’s timeframe of April 21-27, with that timeframe also being the last time confirmed positive cases were reported each of those seven consecutive days, such as happened this past week with no fewer than two cases being reported any of this past week’s seven days.

This past week’s numbers included two confirmed positive cases announced from within the Allamakee Community School District staff, one as of Tuesday, September 8 and the other as of Sunday, September 13. Details of those announcements and how the school is addressing the matter are provided later in this article.

The past week’s timeframe began with just two new cases being reported Tuesday, September 8, with reports of eight, three and six new cases following over the next three days. The weekend brought consecutive days of three reported cases Saturday and Sunday, with Monday, September 14 seeing six new cases reported.

“We’re not trending in a good direction,” explained Sheryl Darling-Mooney, RN of Allamakee County Public Health. “I know people get tired of hearing it, but we need more people to do it; just continue to do the basics if we want to reverse this trend. Social distancing, wear a mask, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands, and stay home when you’re sick.”

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) had made public announcements September 8 and September 13 of one confirmed positive case each of those days in district staff members, but in a follow-up call Monday, September 14 ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis advised that the district was following through on a third confirmed positive case in a staff member that had just been reported by Public Health officials Monday morning. That East Elementary School staff member received word of the positive test result prior to the school day starting and was placed on immediate quarantine, so was not in any of the district buildings Monday, but four East Elementary students were also ordered to begin quarantine Monday for a 14-day period as a precautionary measure following contact tracing that revealed their close contact exposure to that staff member late last week. According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and public health guidelines, close contact exposure used to determine quarantine implementation involves being within six feet of a confirmed positive individual for at least 15 minutes.

The first positive case announced by the ACSD Tuesday, September 8 involved a Waukon High School staff member who had minimal contact with students but was quarantined until symptoms subsided. The school district released the following statement in regard to that first positive case:

“A high school staff member tested positive for COVID-19 today. This staff member has very limited exposure to students or other staff. We worked with Public Health and there were no students or staff that were within six feet of this individual for 15 minutes and this person has worn a mask while at work, so no other quarantining was recommended at this time.”

Over the weekend, the ACSD announced its second positive case in a staff member that not only involved quarantining of the staff member, but also involved 35 East Elementary students and one East Elementary support staff member ordered to be quarantined for 14 days following contact tracing determination of those students and that support staff member being within the guideline-outlined six feet of the positive staff member for at least 15 minutes late last week.

In addition to those 35 students at East Elementary, the ACSD staff member case announced over the weekend has also resulted in one St. Patrick Elementary School student being quarantined for a 14-day period due to close contact with that ACSD staff member. St. Patrick School Principal Katie Fahey said that initially the quarantine was thought to include more of her students but further determination of exposure timeframes resulted in just the one student being quarantined. Principal Fahey did advise that two other St. Patrick students have also been quarantining, but that order came as the result of close contact exposure with the students’ own parents who tested positive.

Both Superintendent Mathis and Principal Fahey say that, thus far, there have been no reports from within their schools of students actually testing positive for COVID-19. Each said they hope that trend continues and that their staff members are doing as much as they can to try and continue that trend, but they also note that - much like each of them learned within this past week - situations can change quickly with this virus.

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