Story County reached 500 COVID-19 cases Tuesday as health officials reported 29 new positive cases over the past 24 hours.
Over the last two weeks, 281 of the county’s 500 cases have been diagnosed by health officials. Since the beginning of June, a total of 333 total cases have been reported throughout the county.
Health officials including both Dr. John Paschen, the chair of Story County’s Board of Health and Steve Sullivan, a spokesperson for Mary Greeley Medical Center and Story County Public Health said the recent surge in cases is occurring in individuals between the ages of 19 and 25 years old.
“More than half of the new cases have been 19 to 25-years-old,” Sullivan told the Tribune on Monday.
In Ames on Monday, Macubana and Cafe Beaudelaire, which are co-owned by Herbert Dardano and Claudio Gianello, had signs on windows which announced closure “until further notice due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in Ames and Story County.”
On Sunday, West Towne Pub revealed the restaurant would close for 72 hours due to the rise in cases, and upon returning to work, all staff are asked to be tested.
“We have taken many precautions during this pandemic with hourly sanitation, having our employees wear masks, gloves, and taking employee temperatures from the start and will continue to do so to protect our patrons,” West Towne Pub wrote in a Facebook post.
Additional businesses including Welch Avenue Station and Bar La Tosca also took to social media to announce plans to close.
Though Paschen applauds local businesses decision to close for a second time in three months, he suspects bars “play a big part” in the spike.
“I have no data to support anything I say, but my impression is that [bars] are [playing a part in this],” he said. “It’s kind of what college students do, they go to bars and they talk and theres’ close contact … so I think [bars] probably do play a big part in this.”
Due to the recent surge of cases, Story County’s Board of Health held a special meeting on Monday evening to discuss possible recommendations to schools, social and religious gatherings, businesses and Iowa State University.
The board approved several recommendations including face coverings for all staff members and customers in businesses, face covering for all teachers and facilty members at day cares and schools from pre-K to 12th grade, and recommending that Iowa State prohibit fans from attending fall sporting events.
On Tuesday, state health officials announced 295 new cases were reported in Iowa as well as two additional deaths.
Story County has had a total of three deaths in the county due to COVID-19, and of the 500 county residents who have tested positive for the virus, 148 individuals have recovered, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s coronavirus website.