• Last modified 901 days ago (Dec. 10, 2020)


Virus effects can last a lifetime

Staff writers

COVID-19 rates in the county are dropping from a post-Halloween peak of 88 cases in seven days, but not everyone will be over the illness as soon as they would like.

The virus is generally thought to sicken people for up to 10 days, but some patients suffer effects from the virus for much longer.

County medical consultant Don Hodson said he has seen people with lingering effects months after their isolation period is over and they are presumed recovered.

“I have seen people coughing on and off for a long, long time,” Hodson said.

For some, the damage will last a lifetime.

Hodson said Newton Medical Center has had patients develop permanent heart and lung damage from the virus.

Monday’s 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate of 25.5% is the county’s lowest since The Marion County Record began regularly tracking the statistic Nov. 2, though the rate still is significantly above levels regarded as safe.

Even a 14-day positivity rate of 20% is regarded as highly dangerous, and the state department of education recommends canceling face-to-face classes in public schools whenever a community’s rate of positive tests exceeds 10%.

County health officials reported eight new cases Monday, 13 Friday, and 14 Wednesday. That brought to 489 the total number of cases in county, including 55 new cases in the past seven days. Until Halloween weekend, the maximum number of cases in any seven-day period had been only 25. Shortly after Halloween, the weekly total of new cases rose sharply to a peak of 88, a number has declined steadily since the third week of November.

Among the 489 cases recorded in the county, 39 continue to be regarded as active, meaning a patient has been ordered to remain isolated for treatment or continued symptoms. Three of those patients were hospitalized as of Monday night.

The state health department also announced that effective Friday, people only had to quarantine seven days if they received a negative test and had no symptoms or 10 days if they had no symptoms but did not take a test.

The new standards do not apply to residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities. They also don’t apply to people who entered quarantine before Friday, county health nurse Diedre Serene said.

Another closely monitored rate is the growth of new cases per 1,000 county residents. As of Friday, Marion County had an infection rate of 41.1 per 1,000 residents, an increase of 4.6 over the past seven days.

Federal guidelines regard any county with a seven-day increase of 1.0 or greater as a “red zone,” and some areas automatically require anyone arriving from a “red zone” county to quarantine up to to 14 days.

County case totals now are updated only three times weekly, each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon except in holiday weeks. The county has refused to release any additional information on the age, gender, or hometown of COVID patients.

Last modified Dec. 10, 2020