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Public Health: Rethink Thanksgiving plans

Webster County reaches 3,000 COVID-19 cases, adds 10 more deaths

With about 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 in less than two weeks, Webster County Public Health is advising residents to seriously rethink their Thanksgiving plans in a holiday season that will look different for many as the virus continues to saturate Iowa.

On Nov. 7, Webster County totaled 2,274 cases, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. As of Thursday, that number had jumped to 3,123.

In that same time frame, the county has seen 10 more people die from the virus, bringing the death toll to 27.

The staggering pace of infections and deaths, with 10 deaths in less than two weeks as the virus positivity rate continues to hover north of 20%, has broken county records. Per capita, Webster County has the 13th highest number of cases in the state.

And difficult times call for difficult decisions to preserve life for future holidays.

“This pandemic has forced many of us to make difficult decisions about school, work, travel and family gatherings,” said Dr. Kelli Wallace, medical director for Webster County Health (WCPH). “Unfortunately this virus doesn’t care if we’re gathering for a holiday with family we have been missing, or a funeral or a game. Please make the decision to celebrate Thanksgiving with immediate family only. Keep gatherings small, distance when you can, and wear masks.”

WCPH is also asking the public to reconsider holiday travel as gatherings with attendees from different locations pose a higher, compounded risk due to community spread in home locations, areas traveled through and the destination. For those who choose to travel or celebrate with those they do not live with, engaging in all preventive behaviors including masking, social distancing, vigilant hand washing and refraining from gatherings upon signs of illness remains critical.

WCPH also advises travelers to forego gestures of close contact, like shaking hands and hugging, and opt for waves and verbal greetings instead. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and shared utensils, and bring your own utensils, food and drinks for members of your own household if possible.

Families may also wish to consider gathering via video call with technology like Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Skype or FaceTime to share a meal instead of gathering in person to eliminate the ever increasing risk of gatherings during the virus’ resurgence. As with other everyday circumstances, WCPH asks those at increased risk for coronavirus complications, everyone with COVID-19 symptoms, those awaiting test results, those who have been exposed in the last 14 days and those not released from public health isolation to refrain from hosting or participating in gatherings.

“We know that people want the holidays to be a time to return to normalcy, but our cases locally are increasing exponentially,” said Kelli Bloomquist, public information officer for WCPH. “Choosing safety and small immediate family gatherings this Thanksgiving will help to reduce community spread in our area.”

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