As COVID-19 cases increased in many rural areas across the state last week, public health officials said the best way to stop the virus spread is to stay home if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms.

Clinton County’s numbers stayed relatively flat, dropping 6.5% to 158 cases in the last seven days, down 11 from the previous week, the CDC said.  

Jackson County is one of the virus hot spots in rural parts of the state, Jared Strong reported for the Iowa Capital Dispatch Friday. 

In the past seven days, positive cases in Jackson County increased from 73 to 124, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Now we have COVID all over the place,” said Michele Cullen, who oversees community health in Clinton and Jackson counties. 

The majority of that is family spread, she said, adding that it has not been uncommon for five or six family members to test positive at once. 

Public health officials are urging people to take precautions during the holiday season.

“People are going to get together, we know that. That’s what’s happening, and I understand it,” Cullen said.

“But we still can remember to wash our hands more often. If we aren’t well, stay home. Those same things we’ve been told forever with flu and respiratory illnesses,” she said. “I would encourage people to wear masks.” 

The Iowa Department of Health is urging people to get vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19 to prevent avoidable hospitalizations and help preserve health care resources for other needs, including illnesses, injuries and emergencies.

The rates of the population 12 years and older fully vaccinated in Clinton and Jackson counties on Monday were 59.1% and 57.5%, respectively. 

Ida County in the Western part of the state and Decatur on the southern border also have surging rates, as do the far northern counties of Cerro Gordo, Hancock and Winnebago. 

Hospitalizations in Region 5 of the state, which includes Clinton and Jackson counties, increased by 13 people over the past week, Cullen said.

She noted that 73% of the people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Iowa have not had the vaccine, and 81% in ICU have not had it. 

Genesis Health System reported 39 people with COVID-19 in its Davenport facility, three in DeWitt, four in Maquoketa, and seven in Silvis, for a total of 53, up 12 from a week ago.

Cullen said many of the people testing positive for the coronavirus right now are having cold-like, bronchitis symptoms.

“It’s still putting them in the hospital,” she said, adding that health officials are seeing a downward shift in the ages of people hospitalized.

“We are seeing more people in the 60 to 75 age-range and dipping down into the 45 to 60 range,” she said. “There are some in the 80 and above, but not like it was last year at this time.”