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Fourth COVID-19 death reported

Webster County’s COVID-19 death count is now up to four.

The death, a person in the 61-80 age category, was confirmed by Webster County Public Health Wednesday evening. The death coincided with the death of another Fort Dodge Correctional Facility inmate, Ray Allen Vanlengen, who was 71. Reports of the third and fourth death coincided Wednesday.

“We are saddened for the families of these individuals and continue to ask residents to follow public health guidance to stay at home if you are sick, to cover coughs, to frequently wash hands, and to wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible,” said Kari Prescott, director of Webster County Public Health. “That is the only way that we are going to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

On Monday, tests from an outbreak at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility started to return after the first case was discovered in the prison last Wednesday. By Monday, 39 inmates tested positive. By Tuesday, the number jumped to 61. More positive cases are expected as further testing continues, according to the Department of Corrections.

“As we continue testing at the prison, we will see these numbers rise because inmates are in close quarters,” Prescott said.

Additionally, Webster County Public Health is seeing multiple cases of people who are working or in close personal contact spread (within six feet) while sick or asymptomatic.

“Our biggest request of Webster County residents is to stay home if you aren’t feeling well,” Prescott. “Don’t assume that your headache or sniffles are just allergies. In order to contain the spread, we need you to stay at home, especially when you are most contagious.”

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