COVID numbers rising

By Chance Chamberlain

Cass County saw record spike in positive COVID-19 cases in October and Cass County Health Department Director Andrew Warlen expects exponential growth during the holiday season.

“We are seeing significant increases in positive cases here in Cass County. Our tally week runs each week from Saturday to Sunday and our count on Nov. 7 was 262 for that week, which is the highest total we have had since all of this started,” he said.

“In our past four weeks, we have seen more cases than we have since this began. Our numbers are growing at an astronomical rate and it looks like this trend will continue through the holiday season.”

After maintaining a consistent number of cases through the months of July, August and September, the month of October saw an increase of 200 cases and November is on pace to surpass those numbers in half the time.

Warlen said, “In the summer months of July, August and September, we hovered around the 500 case count per month, but in October, the number increased to a whopping 689 positive cases for the month. November is on track to see a greater number of cases than last month.

“On Nov. 8, there were 305 positive cases in the county and as of Nov. 11, there were 441 cases reported to the health department. That is an increase of more than 100 new cases in just three days. We are only halfway through the month of November and we have nearly 500 new cases county wide,” he added.

Although the second wave of COVID-19 has seen fewer deaths, the hospitals are struggling to maintain because of the surge of patients, according to Warlen.

“We are not seeing clusters of deaths like we were early on because we are doing a pretty good job of keeping the at-risk population safe, which is a double edged sword. A lot of our at-risk crowd has been asked to stay home and away from people so they are struggling with the mental health side of things, but they are safe from catching the virus by following our protocols,” he said.

“Hospitals are filling up again and because of this, there is limited bed availability for both patients and staff who are working to treat positive cases.”

Regardless of the rising number of positive cases in Cass County, Warlen said he does not see a stay-at-home order anytime soon and that a mandatory mask mandate is not a high possibility right now.

“I do not expect any sort of stay-at-home order to be announced by the county, but a mask mandate is possible, just not right now. I went to the county commission a couple weeks back and they were not in support of a mask mandate. Even though the county has not mandated anything, we must change our behaviors to lower these numbers,” he said.

According to Warlen, everybody should follow in the steps of the schools in the county because they have worked closely with the Cass County Health Department to ensure the safety of everybody in attendance.

“The schools have been rock stars through all of this. They have been in constant contact with us to follow the correct protocols and to ensure they are doing things the right way. I think everybody could learn something from the way they have handled this pandemic,” he said.

“They have attacked it the right way. Sure, there have been some positive cases, but when a positive has been discovered, they work efficiently to contact trace to keep students and their families safe. All the work the schools are doing is incredible.”

The Cass County Health Department asks that symptoms are taken seriously and that proper COVID-19 tests are completed before re-entering the public. This helps slow the spread and keeps the community safe.

For more information about COVID-19, call the health department at 816-380-8425.