• Last modified 1251 days ago (Jan. 12, 2021)


Post-holidays COVID surge breaks single-day record


Staff writers

A feared post-holidays surge in COVID-19 cases hit like a tsunami Monday with disclosure of a record 41 new cases in Marion County.

That’s 10 more than ever have been reported on a single day before, eclipsing a record set Nov. 9.

The new cases, combined with 29 last Wednesday, raise to 70 the total number of cases reported in the past seven days.

The seven-day number of cases is rapidly approaching previous peaks. It’s just two short of the 72 new cases recorded for the seven days that ended Dec. 18 in the aftermath of Thanksgiving and is 18 short of the all-time record of 88 set Nov. 12 in the aftermath of Halloween.

Both previous peaks hit two to three weeks after the holiday linked to the surge. Unofficial expectations are that the current surge linked to Christmas and New Year’s may not yet have crested.

The county has recorded 728 cases of coronavirus since April 1. That means 6.13% of all people in the county — one out of every 16 adults and children — have tested positive for the disease. Uncounted hundreds if not thousands of county residents have been ordered into quarantine after exposure to those who tested positive.

Marion County’s seven-day new-infection rate now stands at 5.9 times the federal standard for listing the county as a “red zone.” Many communities require those traveling to a red zone to quarantine for up to 14 days upon returning home.

According to county health officials, 76 people were continuing to experience symptoms, receive treatment, or be under isolation orders as of Monday evening. Only one of those was listed as being hospitalized. Hospitals have tightened standards for admission to preserve capacity for those with the most life-threatening symptoms.

The latest report continues to list only six deaths in the county from COVID-19, but health officials warn that deaths sometimes take four to six weeks to show up in their data.

Officials continue to reduce how often they report on the pandemic. Despite the record number of new cases reported Monday, weekly briefings for county commissioners were ended. Daily updates earlier were switched to thrice weekly. The next report on county COVID-19 testing is not expected until Wednesday evening.

County health department administrator Diedre Serene told county commissioners Monday the health department had vaccinated emergency responders and home health care workers so far and was working to vaccinate another 10 people that day. Vaccines come in 10-dose vials, so nurses line up 10 people at one time.

“We have reached out to the pharmacies and dentists in the county,” Serene said.

Hospitals and long term care facilities are also getting vaccines. Vaccines for long term care facilities will be given by contracted pharmacies.

Serene said the state has a five-phase plan for vaccine roll-out, but has not yet announced what the next four phases will be.

If the health department has leftover vaccine after phase 1, they are to give the excess to other counties, Serene said.

Health officials aren’t sure how long the vaccine protects people, and people who get vaccines will be followed up to see if they do develop symptoms of the virus, she said.

Commissioner Kent Becker said he thought vaccine updates, instead of COVID updates, would be sufficient for future commission meetings.

Commissioner Randy Dallke concurred, but asked that the commission be notified if anything new comes up that they should know.

Last modified Jan. 12, 2021