Northwest Iowa — The number of COVID-19 tests coming back positive and the elevated number of cases being reported each day in the last couple of weeks has some businesses, organizations, and government subdivisions clamping down on precautions. But some local experts say while social distancing, handwashing, and mask-wearing protocols should continue to be followed, there is not a big reason for concern.

According to recent statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health, a month ago, our four northwest Iowa counties were averaging about 11 new cases per day. In a recent five-day period, we’ve averaged 23 cases per day.

At the Rock Valley Community Schools, some students were recently sent home, causing concern from the community. But Rock Valley Schools superintendent, Chad Janzen says while the district did send some kids home, it was due to contact tracing — not that the students were actually sick, according to Janzen. He says the number of kids that were ACTUALLY sick was so low, that if he gave us the actual number — because Rock Valley is such a small community — it would reveal who they were.

We also asked Sanford Sheldon CEO Rick Nordahl if they have seen an uptick in cases or an uptick in positive tests. He says the number of tests that they do has risen slightly, but only by a few. And the percentage coming back positive for COVID remains steady for the past month or more at just under 10 percent. In O’Brien County as a whole, he says it’s just over 10 percent of the tests ordered coming back positive. But Nordahl says people are more aware of the symptoms and if they think they might be sick, a few more of them are coming in to get tested. But he says it’s not a huge increase like going from 10 per week to 25 or anything like that. He says it’s a small increase.

Sanford Sheldon officials say that if you even think you MIGHT have COVID, they ask you to please not just show up at the clinic and possibly infect others in the waiting room. They say you should call ahead, tell them you wonder if you might have COVID, and they will direct you what to do to get you in to see your provider with the least potential exposure to others.

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