Area entities take temporary measures to close in an effort to help slow COVID-19 continuing to spread at new high single-day and weekly rates in Allamakee County

Allamakee County continued to follow the nationwide trend of ever-increasing cases of COVID-19 this past week. For the fourth consecutive week, a new record high number of cases were reported for the county with 108 total cases from Tuesday, November 10 through Monday, November 16, reports the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Nearly half of this past week’s total case count was reported in two separate days, where a new single-day high number of 25 cases were reported both Tuesday, November 10 and again Saturday, November 14. Out of the now 35 weeks that COVID-19 cases have been reported since mid-March of this year, 27 of those weeks have not even reached a 25-case total for an entire week, much less in a single day.

In between those new record-high single-day totals, three additional days of double-digit cases were reported, with 13, 11 and 18 cases reported for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, November 11-13, respectively. Following Saturday’s record-high total of 25 cases, Allamakee County had single-digit case totals reported both Sunday and Monday, November 15-16 with seven and nine cases, respectively.

LOCAL UPDATES
Both the Allamakee Community School District and the Eastern Allamakee Community School District continue to report single-digit positive case totals in their respective staff and student body, although quarantining of students and staff due to possible exposure outside of school has involved a much higher number for both districts.

In its latest update offered Friday afternoon, November 13, the Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) reported it currently had no staff members but three students with positive test results for COVID-19. Additionally, one staff member was being quarantined as they waited for a test result and three others had been exposed but were asymptomatic and continued to work with masks in place as essential workers. A total of 38 students in the ACSD were under quarantine as of that Friday reporting, including nine each at West Elementary School and Waukon High School, 15 students at East Elementary School and five students at Waukon Middle School.

The Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) offered an update Wednesday, November 11 stating that there are active cases in the district but that the number may not be published unless it is greater than five, according to Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines. The EACSD also reported that a combination total of 64 students and staff members within the district were currently under quarantine as of that November 11 date.

Thornton Manor in Lansing reports just one additional case in the past week, since Monday, November 9, now sitting at 37 cases as of Monday afternoon, November 16. The facility also reports that 11 of those initial cases are now listed as recovered, and Thornton Manor remains as one of 100 long-term care facilities currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

LOCAL EFFORTS TO SLOW THE SPREAD
The continued rise in local cases has resulted in numerous entities taking measures to try and slow the spread of the virus, including closures.

Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) Superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier released the following letter to EACSD residents Thursday, November 12 announcing closure of all EACSD buildings for a more extensive period than the original Thanksgiving break the district had planned for this year:

Due to the high level of COVID-19 in Allamakee County, as well as many non-school related cases that affect the school, Eastern Allamakee Schools will be closed Monday, November 23, Tuesday, November 24 and Wednesday, November 25 (in addition to the district’s originally planned closure Thursday and Friday, November 26-27 for the Thanksgiving holiday). In addition, we will have a two-hour early dismissal Friday, November 20. These three days will not be virtual, and we will make them up at the end of the year as we would for snow days in a normal year (prior to 2020). The last day of school (prior to the break) will be Friday, November 20, and we will not return until Monday, November 30. This will give us a nine-day closure for cleaning and healing at a small cost. Hopefully, this closure will mitigate the spread of the virus.

We are hopeful that this current small-level closure over Thanksgiving will give us some breathing room, so we can continue to serve our students as best as we can. We would encourage everyone to follow the guidelines provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health so that we can continue to move forward.

Respectfully,
Dr. Dale Crozier
Superintendent
Eastern Allamakee

As a shared Superintendent of Schools between both the EACSD and the MFL/MarMac School District, Dr. Crozier is implementing a similar closure in the MFL/MarMac School District as well.

Throughout the communities of Lansing and New Albin that make up that Eastern Allamakee Community School District, several businesses are likewise closing their doors for varying periods of time in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The New Albin City Clerk’s Office made public announcement Wednesday, November 11 of the temporary closure of the following entities: Buzzards, Way Station, Hair Depot, New Albin Public Library, New Albin Savings Bank lobby closed, Linda Tanner Daycare, Grotegut’s Daycare, City Meat Market and High Chaparral.

In Lansing, the Main Street Lansing organization has also made public announcement of several businesses closing for varying lengths of time. The Other Place (Thee OP), nutMeg’s Cafe & Bakery, Coffee on the River, and TJ Hunter’s City Hall Lounge have all announced closures to varying degrees due to either possible COVID-19 exposure or, for the health of others, to simply try and slow the spread of the virus that has increased exponentially during recent weeks.

NEW STATE OF IOWA PROCLAMATIONS
In a Tuesday, November 10 press conference, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency for the state for another 30 days through December 10. A summary of several new mitigation measures included in her November 10 proclamation can be found at https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/61/covid19/resources/Summary%2....

That proclamation also strongly encourages “all Iowans to consider how their choice to adhere to public health mitigation strategies impacts the spread of COVID-19 in their family and community. Specifically, I strongly encourage Iowans to consider avoiding events not adhering to social distancing and mask recommendations and thereby considered high risk including but not limited to weddings, funerals, bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, conventions, indoor entertainment, spectator sports, private parties, tailgating, and vacationing.”

In a rare public address to the state Monday evening, November 16, Governor Reynolds added even more stringent guidelines for COVID-19 mitigation efforts, imploring state of Iowa residents to be accountable for their own actions and follow recommended guidelines in an effort to prevent the continuing rising case count from overwhelming Iowa hospitals and healthcare systems, and to prevent even greater measures from being taken.

The Monday, November 16 proclamation requires mask use in any indoor spaces open to the public when individuals are within six feet of one another for 15 minutes or longer and also restricts social, community, business or leisure gatherings to no more than 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors, such as wedding receptions, family gatherings, conventions, and other nonessential gatherings, with the exception of gatherings that occur during the ordinary course of business or government.

She further mandated that youth and adult group sporting and recreational gatherings are prohibited except at the high school, college and professional level of sports play. Within the realm of high school sports and extracurricular events, only two spectators are permitted for each high school athlete, performer or competitor, and those spectators must wear a mask and maintain six feet distance from other spectators.

The further restrictions require bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues to close to in-person service at 10 p.m. with no seating at the bar and masks required when not seated. Those venues must maintain six feet distancing between groups and those groups are limited to eight people unless they are all from the same household.

Those who are eating or drinking must be seated.

Group fitness activities are not allowed at fitness or wellness centers. Hospitals must also reduce their inpatient, non-essential surgeries to a level that uses at least 50% fewer beds than they did, on average, during September 2020 in an effort to make space available for COVID-19 patients. A further summary of the November 16 proclamation can be found at https://governor.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Summary%20of%20E...

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