WATCH NOW: Black Hawk Co. has highest positive serology tests in state

DES MOINES — Black Hawk County has recorded 664 people positive for having had coronavirus through a serology test, the highest in Iowa by far, according to state health officials.

A serology test indicates whether a person has produced antibodies for the novel coronavirus, an indicator they’ve gotten the virus and recovered from it, even if they never showed symptoms.

Black Hawk County accounts for nearly 40% of the state’s 1,672 total positive serology tests, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The next-highest county is Polk County, with 204 positive serology tests.

Those numbers aren’t counted among the county’s total number of positive coronavirus cases, said IDPH director Dr. Caitlin Pedati.

“They’re not included together because they’re sort of a different situation,” Pedati said at Tuesday’s state briefing. “But, as you might imagine, they’re related.”

Pedati did not elaborate on why the two were different.

Black Hawk County has long lumped positive diagnostic tests with positive serology tests, county officials have said, which is why the county says it records a higher number than the state. But adding the state’s diagnostic and serology tests together shows nearly 2,300 Black Hawk County residents have had coronavirus, much higher than the county’s number.

The state of Iowa added 341 cases and 12 deaths to its coronavirus totals Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she is considering whether to allow additional activities to resume as her current proclamation prohibiting social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people expires next week.

“We’re continuing to see positive trends and so were going to continue to monitor that and look for opportunities to continue to bring more businesses online,” she said.

While Reynolds recently allowed restaurants, fitness centers, malls, hair salons, barber shops, and tanning facilities to reopen with limits on close contact and customer volume, she continued the closure for many other businesses. Those businesses include bars, casinos, movie theaters, bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades and amusement parks.

Her proclamation expires May 27.

As of Tuesday, the state totals 15,296 known positive cases and 367 deaths.

Reynolds also said she will ask the federal government for an extension of the order that allows National Guard troops to assist with state coronavirus response missions while being paid with federal funds. An initial extension in the order authorizes their assignment through June and Reynolds said she plans to seek extension possibly through the end of July.

Adding Black Hawk County’s totals to the state’s, 15,506 people in 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties have tested positive for coronavirus, or 0.5% of the state’s population. Only Decatur County along the Missouri border has no positive cases recorded.

There are now 368 deaths in 33 counties, and around 2.4% of Iowans who have tested positive for coronavirus have died, with 87% over the age of 61.

The state added one long-term care facility outbreak Tuesday for a total of 37 such outbreaks in 16 counties, with 1,446 cases and 204 of the state’s total deaths.

Five counties now report an infection rate over 2%: Crawford, Louisa, Marshall, Tama and Woodbury counties. Another three are over 1% of their population: Black Hawk, Muscatine and Wapello counties.

Nine counties have had 10 or more COVID-19 deaths: Black Hawk, Dallas, Dubuque, Jasper, Linn, Muscatine, Polk, Tama and Woodbury counties.

The state has a 14.3% positive test rate. The World Health Organization recommends a positive test rate of 10% or less as an adequate testing rate.

The Black Hawk County Health Department reported 1,843 cases and 32 deaths in the county as of Monday.

The county has four long-term care facility outbreaks: Harmony House added four cases for 89 cases among residents and staff; Friendship Village added three cases for 43 cases; NewAldaya Lifescapes remained at 13 cases; and Pillar of the Cedar Valley added one case for a total of six cases.

Allamakee County added one case Tuesday for a total of 115 cases and four deaths.

Bremer County added one case for a total of 65 cases and five deaths. An outbreak at Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community comprises 30 of the county’s cases.

Tama County added four cases and one death for a total of 362 cases and 18 deaths. The county has two long-term care outbreaks: Pinnacle Estates of Toledo remained at 52 cases; and Westbrook Acres added one case for a total of 32 cases.

Winneshiek County added one case for a total of 21 cases.

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