Cass death toll stands at 30

  • COVID-19

  The Cass County Health Department announced Monday that two more Cass residents have died as a result of COVID-19 related illnesses.
   The two new fatalities raises to 30 the number of Cass residents who’ve died since April, 2020, when the first local case was reported.
   The first 11 COVID-19 related deaths were the result of an outbreak at the Walker Nursing Home in Virginia.  
   The number of local lives lost to COVID-19  remained at 11 through the end of October, when local community case counts began to increase.
   The number of COVID-related deaths climbed to 24 during the month of November, with 10 deaths connected to an outbreak at the Heritage Manor nursing facility, while the remaining three were attributed to community spread of the virus.
   Four additional community spread deaths occurred during the month of December.
Cass County Health Department Administrator Teresa Armstrong said recent numbers in the county and in the region could be pointing toward a downward trend in new cases.
   “It’s really hard to tell,” she said, “Because we haven’t got the numbers in from the Christmas holiday season yet. It could be because people just put off getting tested for the holidays.”
   Last week, the county’s total case count at print deadline stood at 1,581, with the active case count at 117, and the number of recovered at 1,436.  Three persons were hospitalized.
   This week, the total case count stood at 1,668, an increase of 87 cases and down significantly from the more than 180 cases reported in a one-week span in December.
   Currently 1,514 cases have been listed as recovered while the number of current cases stands at 123. Two county residents are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.
   Armstrong said, however, she is encouraged by the region-wide numbers she’s seen in the last few weeks.
   “Regionally, our numbers are trending down and that’s a good sign,” she said.
   “The number of ICU beds available in the region is up to nearly 25 percent, so we’re hopeful there could be some movement on the mitigation restrictions.”
   On the vaccination front, Armstrong said the health department has administered all 101 doses it has received to date and is awaiting word on when or how many additional doses will be received.
   “I’m kind of frustrated,” Armstrong said of the lack of distribution information. “It’s kind of hard to plan a vaccine distribution schedule when you don’t know when or how much vaccine you’re going to receive.”
   The health department is currently waiting on vaccine shipments to let them finish vaccinating front line medical workers and first responders, before moving on to the next category on the vaccine protocol list.
In the meantime, the health department continues to encourage mask usage, and social distancing for those who must be out in the public.  Frequent hand washing and staying home when not feeling well are suggested as ways to reduce COVID-19 exposure.