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Keeping COVID under Control

Health department reminds community to prevent spread of sickness


Local health officials continue to monitor and address the current state of health in the
community, focusing on the status of COVID-19 in Polk County.

According to data provided by Polk County Health Center, there was a slight increase in reported
cases between June and July. Last month, there were 308 new cases with an average case per day
of 10.28.

The data for this month up until July 22 reveals that there were 324 new cases with a 14.72
average case per day. The CDC also projects that the current positivity rate for COVID-19 in
Polk County is 25%.

Michelle Morris, Polk County Health Center administrator, suspects that the reason for the uptick
of cases this summer is attributed, in part, to the different variants of COVID.

According to Morris, data from the Sewershed Surveillance report – an initiative that tests for
COVID-19 in communities – revealed that Bolivar is primarily seeing cases of the BA.4 and
BA.5 variants.

Morris also says that, recently, there’s also been more reported COVID-related hospitalizations.
Due to these increases, Morris reminds the public to continue making a diligent effort to monitor
their health and take precautions to prevent sickness.

People are encouraged to maintain healthy practices, such as effective hand-washing, staying
home when feeling ill, monitoring symptoms, and getting tested as necessary. Morris also urges
individuals to contact their doctor if they feel ill.

The health center administers vaccinations on a walk-in basis with no appointment needed. Third
vaccine doses and boosters are available for qualifying individuals.

For symptomatic individuals, Polk County Health Center is a free COVID-19 testing site.

“If you are positive, the recommendation from CDC is that they would stay home for a period of
five days, isolated away from others from symptom onset,” Morris explains. “And then as long
as symptoms improve, and they’re feeling better, they can return to the normal activities as they
feel like it.”

The CDC also recommends individuals wear masks for five days upon returning to normal

Morris says that immunocompromised persons should also consider wearing a mask when they
are in large group settings.

While cases and hospitalizations may have increased, the number of reported COVID-related
deaths have dwindled in the past few months.

Some other good news is that, according to the CDC’s reports, the COVID transmission rate in
Polk County dropped from a “High Status” to a “Medium Status” this week.

As COVID continues to make its rounds throughout the community, Morris recognizes that there
is a process for keeping it under control with the help of citizens who practice preventive

“That’s kind of the thing that I think is interesting for us. COVID is a communicable disease,”
she says. “It’s really just about case investigation, identifying where the person could have
contracted it from, who they could potentially expose, and then just educating people about what
to do from there.”

For more information about COVID-19 and public health concerns, contact Polk County Health
Center at 417-326-7250.