Zero new cases

Webster County reports no COVID cases for the first time since pandemic began

-Messenger file photo
State Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, right, administers a COVID-19 vaccine during a mass clinic at Crossroads Mall in March 2021. In addition to being a state representative, Meyer is a registered nurse.

For the first time since the COVID pandemic breached Iowa’s borders two years ago, the Webster County Health Department reported zero new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.

The first positive case of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was confirmed by the WCHD on March 26, 2020. Since that date, the county has reported around 10,300 positive cases, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The first COVID-19 death in Webster County came on May 13, 2020, with the passing of Brent “Ben” Newton, of Fort Dodge. Since then, there have been an additional 156 COVID-19-related deaths in Webster County, according to IDPH data.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is by no means in the rearview mirror, WCHD Director Kari Prescott noted the progress that has been made over the last two years.

“This is exciting,” she said. “We know this doesn’t mean the end of COVID, but we saw days in 2020 and 2022 with hundreds of cases. To see a zero case day means that we are nearing a place where we know that Webster County residents know what to do and to expect with COVID, and as a Health Department, we will continue those education pieces as we need to.”

-Messenger file photo
Gov. Kim Reynolds, left, visits with Kari Prescott, director of Webster County Health Department at Crossroads Mall in March 2021. During her visit to Fort Dodge, Reynolds said she was impressed with the department’s handling of the mass vaccination clinics.

But now, she continued, the department can pivot to other areas of local need like the WIC program, family planning, nutrition and more.

“Our staff has worked relentlessly since the beginning of the pandemic to educate residents, answer their questions and help them through COVID,” Prescott said. “I am so proud of the work that they have done.”

According to WCHD public information officer Kelli Bloomquist, the county’s three highest peaks of daily cases were reached earlier this year — 133 cases on Jan. 10, 122 cases on Jan. 17 and 121 cases on Jan. 3.

The highest cumulative case count — new cases accumulated over a Friday, Saturday and Sunday that the staff has had to process — has been as high as 570, Bloomquist said.

Work Iowans did to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 contributed to Wednesday’s milestone of zero new COVID-19 cases, Prescott said.

“Both masking and our vaccination efforts had a place and a purpose in our mitigation efforts and both have led us to where we’re at today,” she said.


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