More Iowa counties are deciding to call it quits with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.
Driving the news: In the past two weeks, both Johnson and Linn counties have ended their contract tracing programs.
Why it matters: Tracing can help slow the spread of the disease by alerting more people of potential exposures.
- But many health departments across the country are struggling to manage, as resources and staffing remain low.
A record level of COVID-19 was detected in Des Moines metro wastewater last week.
- "Not everyone gets tested but everyone has to flush," Des Moines Public Works director Jonathan Gano told Axios.
I ate what seemed to be unusually bland French onion soup from Panera the other day that, combined with holiday mingling, prompted COVID nervousness.
- Was it a mediocre day in the kitchen? Or was I — like many others — positive for COVID-19?
I was able to track down a test and ultimately, it was bad soup.
- For any of you worried about a potential exposure, here are my tips and tricks for finding a COVID test near you.
Overcoming the pandemic — specifically trying to get more people vaxxed and to take precautions more seriously — is Des Moines' top concern, Mayor Frank Cownie told Axios.
State of play: About 70% of Iowans ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including roughly 65% of those eligible in Polk County.
- A spike in hospitalizations and deaths were reported during the holiday season, albeit at levels far lower than in late 2020.
People who test positive for COVID-19 using at-home rapid tests are not included in official case counts unless the results are verified using a PCR test, Polk County Health Department spokesperson Nola Aigner Davis told Axios.
Why it matters: A recent surge in COVID-19 cases is underreported.
- The growing use of at-home tests offers convenience but has left health agencies across the country in the dark, PBS News Hour reports.
The Omicron variant has been identified in Iowa.
Driving the news: State health officials announced Thursday that an unvaccinated person under age 18 has tested positive for the new coronavirus variant.
- The Black Hawk County resident is asymptomatic, but got a test because of travel exposure.
Record levels of COVID-19 were detected in metro-area sewage collected just before Thanksgiving, according to the latest test results.
Driving the news: The Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority's sample collection on Nov. 22 shows coronavirus concentration levels roughly 9% higher than the previous peak in September.
Why it matters: Wastewater surveillance can be a leading indicator of COVID-19 because not everybody gets tested for the virus, according to the CDC.
- Asymptomatic infections show up in the data. And sewage testing is conducted independently from health clinics, which are dependent on community members seeking out care.
A Polk County Jail social worker fired last year after criticizing how the facility handled COVID-19 restrictions was awarded $65,000 in a settlement approved last week by the Board of Supervisors.
Why it matters: Michaela Jens alleged her termination was retaliatory.
Of note: At least 89 inmates and nine staffers had tested positive for the virus, according to county data released two days after Jens was discharged.
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