Clinton County surpassed 100 confirmed coronavirus cases last week, as new infections across the United States marking their biggest one-day spike – more than 55,000 on Thursday – since the pandemic began. And cases are growing among younger populations.
Clinton County’s increase in COVID-19 cases is largely due to people not taking proper precautions said Michele Cullen, Clinton County community health manager.
“The increase in numbers continues to be that people are out socializing and not using the personnel protective measures that have been encouraged since March,” Cullen said. Those include frequent hand washing, social distancing (greater than 6 feet from people who are not immediate household members), wearing a cloth mask when unable to social distance and staying home when ill.
Her assessment follows warnings last week by the government’s top infectious diseases expert that new infections could reach 100,000 a day if Americans do not take steps necessary to halt the virus’ resurgent spread, Reuters reported.
While Arizona, California, Florida and Texas are hotspots right now, with new cases more than doubling in June in those and 10 other states, all areas of the United States need to be more proactive, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in testimony to a U.S. Senate committee last week.
“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” Fauci said.
In mid-June Clinton County was at 68 positive cases with most of those recovered. That grew to 85 positive cases on June 25 and 101 positive cases Thursday, with about 90 of those recovered.
In the spring, the virus was disproportionately being recognized in older individuals with significant pre-existing conditions that were causing significant hospitalizations and deaths, said Dr. Jay Butler, COVID-19 incident manager for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a recent telebriefing. That is changing.
“As we look at the cases that have occurred over the past month compared to those that occurred in the months before that, we are seeing a greater proportion of cases that are being diagnosed in younger people,” Butler said. This is true in Clinton County and Iowa.
More than three-fourths of Clinton County’s cases have been in younger populations – 38% of the positive cases have been in the 18 to 40 age range and 39% in the 41 to 60 age range. In Iowa, 48% of cases are in the 18 to 40 range and 31% in the 41 to 60 range.
“On a positive note with this surge of positive cases the population is mostly under 40, and the acuity of the illness is not hospitalizing as many residents as it did in April and May,” Cullen said, although that’s not to minimize the risks.
While Region 5 of the state’s six Regional Medical Coordination Centers, of which Clinton County is part, had had 581 inpatient beds, 93 ICU beds and 222 ventilators available Monday, the impact of the pandemic early on in New York and now in the Sunbelt states shows how quickly a medical system can become overwhelmed.
Health experts note that the rise in cases among younger people may point to more people who are asymptomatic spreading the disease, exposing others, including more at-risk populations, to the virus. And as restrictions are loosened, younger people may be more social and less careful than people who are older and have preexisting conditions.
“People need to evaluate the risk in going out and make sure they are keeping themselves safe but also their household members. If deciding to attend a larger event use your personnel protective measures to lower your risk,” Cullen said.
On Monday morning, Clinton County had 113 confirmed COVID-19 cases.