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93 new COVID-19 cases in Story County; health chair says data shows Ames hotspot spreading to other cities

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune

Another 93 people have tested positive for COVD-19 in Story County, Iowa's coronavirus website shows.

By 10 a.m. Friday, the state was reporting that 2,742 people had tested positive in Story County, up 93 from Thursday's total. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

John Paschen, a pediatrician and chair of the Story County Board of Health, said Thursday that a rise in cases for people 45 years or older shows the spread is not staying on Iowa State's campus.

Cases began rising in Ames after students returned for the fall semester.

"What I'm really afraid of is we're going to have another episode where it gets into a nursing home, and a lot of people die," Paschen said. 

Of those infected,1,227 have recovered and 16 people have died in Story County since the start of the outbreak, according to state data. 

Ames City Council passed a mask ordinance Tuesday though excluded a penalty after the city attorney advised they did not have the legal authority to enforce it due to conflicts with Gov. Kim Reynold's emergency proclamation. This followed Ames being named the top coronavirus hotspot in the country by the New York Times.

Story County is working on its own mask regulation with a penalty. Paschen said the intention is to have a mandate ready for the Board of Supervisors to pass once Reynolds grants local municipalities the power to do so. 

Cases across the state

Another three people with COVID-19 have died in Iowa and there have been an additional 1,183 confirmed cases, the state reported Friday

At 10 a.m. Friday, the state was reporting 1,137 COVID-19-related deaths, an increase of three deaths since the state's tally at 10 a.m. Thursday, according to the state's website. 

The state was reporting at 10 a.m. Friday that there are 67,982 confirmed cases of coronavirus, an increase of 1,183 since 10 a.m. Thursday. 

The state has been changing how it reports testing data, which has caused spikes in the rate of positive data. Before the changes, the state was consistently reporting a positivity rate, that is, the percentage of tests that were positive, below 10%. Iowa also is now counting the results of antigen tests, a relatively rapid type of coronavirus tests, that will increase the reported rates of infection in some counties.

On Friday, the state was reporting 10.4% positive since the pandemic started. Iowa's 14-day average was 11.1% positive, according to the state. 

On Friday, these were the Iowa counties above 15%:

  • Johnson (24.6%);
  • Story (22.1%);
  • Sioux (22.0%);
  • Plymouth (21.1%);
  • Howard (18.6%);
  • Bremer (17.8%);
  • Carroll (17.6%);
  • Lyon (16.8%);
  • Crawford (15.8%);
  • Lee (15.8%);
  • Marion (15.5%).

Reynolds has ordered that at least 50% of instruction at Iowa schools must be held in person. For K-12 schools to be considered for a state waiver allowing for online-only instruction, districts must have a 10% absentee rate and the county they are located in must have a 14-day coronavirus average of at least 15%.

Of the 67,982 people who have tested positive, 48,994 have recovered, according to the state. The total number of people tested is 655,814, including 1,617 on Thursday. 

On Friday, the state was reporting 317 hospitalizations, down from 323 on Thursday. In the past 24 hours, 41 patients have been admitted. Also, there are 87 patients in the ICU, down from 88 on Thursday.

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.

The Des Moines Register contributed to this report.

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