COVID-19 vaccinations reach more area health care professionals
By Scott Bestul

While still in Phase 1A of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, 723 Winneshiek County residents have now received their first dose.

“That’s exciting news,” said Public Health Director Krista Vanden Brink at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, Jan. 11.

Phase 1A dictates that health care workers and staff/residents of long-term care facilities are on priority status to receive the vaccine.

“While the rollout for long term care facilities has not gone as smooth as they’d hoped, things are still progressing,” Vanden Brink noted. “Most county facilities have received their first round.”

Phase 1B, when more members of the general public can receive the vaccine, should be approaching soon, according to Vanden Brink.

“IDAC (Infectious Disease Advisory Council) will be meeting today (Monday, Jan. 11) in Des Moines and may come out with a plan for the next phase, but I expect we’ll be on hold for awhile until more of Phase 1A is complete,” she said.

According to Vanden Brink, 19,000 doses of the vaccine arrive in the state every week, and IDAC is unlikely to proceed to Phase 1B until at least 70% of Phase 1A recipients have been vaccinated.

“If the state continues to receive the current shipment amounts, the earliest we could enter Phase 1B would be mid-February,” she said. “In the mean time we encourage the public to continue social distancing, hand-washing and wearing masks and behaving responsibly.”

In the past week 72 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the county, Vanden Brink said. “That’s the lowest in awhile and is good news. We’re going in the right direction.”

Vanden Brink noted Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds had announced a new proclamation last week, lifting the limits on spectators allowed at high school games and events. Schools are figuring out what is best for them and how to best maintain social distancing under the relaxation of crowd limits.