The amount of active COVID-19 cases in Nodaway County reached its lowest point since mid-July, and as of Oct. 11, there were no hospitalizations from COVID-19 as the virus’s hold seems to be weakening locally.
The latest data available at the time of publication shows 27 active cases of the virus in Nodaway County. The last time the county had less than 30 active cases of COVID-19 was July 12.
Nate Blackford, president of Mosaic - Maryville, and Tom Patterson, administrator of the Nodaway County Health Department, said vaccination rates, natural virus immunity from those who recently contracted the virus, and mitigation efforts all have played a factor in the recent downturn.
“You’ve got to feel good about seeing less cases,” Patterson said.
Blackford reflected a similar sentiment, and said he feels as good as he has in several months.
He is still “cautiously optimistic” about trends with the virus, the caution coming from the unpredictability of COVID-19. Both locally and nationally, health officials had thought the winter of 2021 would be the worst of the virus before the delta variant began to sweep across the country.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for this to get refueled,” Blackford said. “I think we like trends, and trends are important. But they aren’t necessarily forecasts of what’s going to happen in the future.”
Both Nodaway County and Northwest currently sit in Category Three of three in terms of COVID-19 risk. The third category means populations in those areas are at the least amount of risk, while the first means they are at the most risk.
Lt. Amanda Cullin, a member of Crisis Response Team 2, said Northwest has been in the low-risk category for several weeks. The main data points to determine the risk categories are the seven-day positivity rate and the seven-day total case rate.
At the time of publication, there were nine active COVID-19 cases at Northwest. The University has not had 20 or more active cases since March 12 and has not had consecutive days with 20 or more cases since December 2020.
The case downturn is happening as the U.S. is on the doorstep of flu season, which typically runs from the fall through winter. Other respiratory illnesses, such as the common cold and pneumonia, are also more common this year.
Many health experts have warned of the possibility of a “twindemic,” with flu season and COVID-19 occuring at the same time. Last year, reported flu cases were at an all-time low, which could be caused by increased mitigation, lack of reporting or a number of other reasons.
Local officials are gearing up for the season. Cullin said it’s important for those who are symptomatic to get tested for COVID-19, even if they think it’s just the flu or a cold.
Northwest is also encouraging students to get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19. Northwest Wellness hosted two flu vaccine clinics Oct. 8 and 11.
The last incentive drawing Oct. 1 marked the end of COVID-19 vaccine incentives from the University, for now. After the last drawing, 57% of Northwest students and 67% of employees had shared that they were fully vaccinated with Wellness.
The numbers are still above Nodaway County and Missouri’s vaccination rates of 42.5% and 48.5%, respectively. There haven’t been any new discussions on incentives from CRT 2, Cullin said.
Both Blackford and Patterson praised Northwest’s vaccination rates and said they were important to keep COVID-19 on a downward trend locally.
“We’re still focused on vaccinating,” Patterson said.