“This has been the busiest week we’ve had since the first case was reported last March, Cass County Health Department Director Teresa Armstrong said in a telephone interview with the Star-Gazette Monday morning.
Two more deaths and 131 new cases have been reported for the period of Oct. 31 to Nov. 9. With the report of the additional fatalities, the county’s death toll has risen to 13.
Seventy-nine of the new cases came between Wednesday and Friday and another 45 cases were reported Monday. The numbers were fueled by the report of a major outbreak at Beardstown’s Heritage Manor nursing home where a total of 50 cases had been confirmed as of Monday (39 among the residents and 11 among staff members.)
With new numbers being reported hourly and state-mandated changes being made to the reporting system, Armstrong said it’s difficult to keep track of all the numbers. Positivity rates have increased, with the week’s results averaging out to be nearly 25 percent.
“Our numbers are surging, just like everybody else in the region,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said the county health department is now using an antigen-based test that gets results in about 15 minutes. “We’ve nearly doubled our testing capacity and are struggling to keep up with the demand,” she said.
“As of today, (Monday) we’ve had 610 total cases in the county,and the active case count is 129,” Armstrong added.
As of Monday night, there were five Cass County residents hospitalized with COVID-19, the largest number of people hospitalized since the first case was reported in March.
Currently, between 300-400 people are on quarantine within the county and Armstrong said that number is likely to grow.
“Most of what we’re seeing is community spread,” Armstrong said. It doesn’t seem to be coming from any one place or location,” she said.
There’s no indication of a surge in cases at JBS, the county’s largest employer. “JBS is working hard and doing all they can to protect their workforce and their employees,” Armstrong said. “They’re taking all the necessary precautions to keep their employees safe and the plant open.
Of concern to Armstrong is the youth spread of the disease. Five new youth cases have been reported since last Friday.
According to Armstrong, the contact tracing staff at the health departments doing a great job, buty added “They’re putting in a lot of long, hard hours and we’re working the contact tracing staff seven days per week. It’s difficult work.”
“Not everyone wants to be completely honest about where they’ve been or who may have been exposed. But it’s extremely important for us to get accurate information about who may have been exposed. It’s the key to trying to curb the spread of this disease,” she concluded.