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Health center announces two more COVID deaths

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The Polk County Health Center recently released information regarding two additional COVID-19 related deaths of Polk County residents, including one teenager. 

In a post on social media on Monday, Jan. 24, the center said “the virus continues to move throughout our community.” 

“As a result, we are sad to share we lost two more residents last week,” the post stated. “Ages 72 and 17, neither resident was vaccinated; both were identified with underlying health conditions.”

The post stated the health center staff sends its “sincere condolences to all the family and friends of these dear individuals.”

The new confirmed deaths bring the county’s total death toll for the entire pandemic to at least 60.

Community educator Carol Bookhout said Polk County’s COVID-19 positivity rate as of Tuesday, Jan. 18, was 31.5%, a record high. 

“We anticipate it will reach 35% at the peak,” she said. 

As of Monday, Jan. 24, health center administrator Michelle Morris said the positivity rate had reached 37.4%. 

Bookhout said the county’s highest new case count per day was Friday, Jan. 21, with 144 new cases.  

“We have averaged 79 new cases per day last week,” Bookhout said. “We have added 1,272 new cases since Jan. 1.”  

She said, by comparison, the county added 614 total new cases last January. 

In a separate social media post, the center asked people to help “slow the surge” of COVID-19 in the community by masking in public, getting vaccinated and boosted, physically distancing and limiting exposure to large crowds. 

“We also ask people to consider postponing large gatherings until the surge subsides,” Bookhout added. 

The center continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines, including first, second and booster shots, from 8 to 11:45 a.m. and 1 to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

“Before entering our building, we ask that you pick up paperwork from our drive-thru and complete in your vehicle,” the center stated in a social media post. 

Bookhout said the center also has free surgical masks available at the drive-thru window.

For more information, call the health center at 417-326-7250.  

School dismissals

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the community, the Bolivar R-1 school district announced a modified school schedule for the district on Friday, Jan. 21. 

Bolivar schools were closed for a wellness break Monday, Jan. 24, with neither students nor staff reporting. The central office remained open. 

The district went to virtual learning on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 25-26. 

However, athletic events continued as scheduled. 

As of Friday, the district’s attendance numbers were as follows: 

  • Primary school: students 82%, teachers 91%.
  • Intermediate school: students 76%, teachers 88%.
  • Middle school: students 76%, teachers 81%.
  • High school: students 73%, teachers 85%.

While the Bolivar district chose to discontinue in-person learning this week, other Polk County school districts opted to go to virtual learning last week. 

Per posts on social media, the Fair Play R-2, Halfway R-3 and Marion C. Early R-5 school districts went to virtual learning last week, citing staff and student illness and COVID-19 cases. 

All three districts planned for students, teachers and staff to return to in-person learning on Tuesday, Jan. 25. 

Both the Humansville R-4 and Pleasant Hope R-6 districts continued with seated classes. They had not dismissed in-person learning as of press time Tuesday.

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