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COVID update from county officials

Angie Talken
atalken@chillicothenews.com
Linn County Leader

On Wednesday area officials gathered to discuss COVID-19 in Linn County, including current statistics and resources.

There are currently 46 positive test results for COVID-19 in Linn County. Krista Neblock, director of the Linn County Health Center said. There are also eight individuals under isolation precautions as of Aug. 3.

She said citizens should continue to use the best practices, like hand washing, and social distancing.

“Safety measures like washing hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap, staying home if you are sick, avoiding large gatherings, social distancing and taking preventative measures like wearing a mask when social distance can’t be maintained is still recommended,” she said. “Vulnerable populations like the immunocompromised and elderly should take extra precautions.”

Testing through the health center has been ongoing. She was there have been 1,156 tests completed on Linn County residents, which is about 13% of the county’s population. The 46 positive cases give the county a positivity rate for COVID-19 of 3%. There were 54,080 positive tests in the state as of Aug. 4, with a positivity rate of 9.7%.

The positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested. As more people are being tested, the focus is shifting to the positivity rate -- how many of those tested are actually infected.

Staff at the health center continues to do contact tracing on anyone with positive results, she said as times passes, more people have more contacts. “People generally are receptive to being placed on quarantine due to contact,” she said.

Katherine Ballard, lab director at Pershing Memorial Hospital, said the hospital, which has been doing testing since March, has tested 1,050 people from across the area - not just in Linn County - and had 70 positive results.

The hospital is now using rapid testing - an antigen test - that allows results to be back within 30 minutes.

With a doctor’s order, anyone can have the nasal swab test completed, though Ballard said hospital procedure states that anyone wishing to have a test done should call the hospital first, so the test can be completed without the patient coming into the facility.

The test costs $120 but is submitted to insurance, and Ballard said there are a variety of state and federal programs that are in place to ensure there should not be a charge to anyone needing a test.

Ballard noted that it is more likely for there to be a false negative, than a false positive test.

“Today, someone might have symptoms and test negative because of the lack of sufficient antigens, in two days the body has built up antigens and they test positive,” she said.

Those who test negative but still have symptoms are asked to quarantine.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has a COVID-19 helpline at 877-435-8411. More information can also be found at https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/novel-coronavirus/?ocid=eventhub.