Clinton and Jackson counties received enough doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the first round of distributions to cover all area frontline healthcare workers and residents in longterm care facilities. Now, public health officials are planning for the next round of shots, which will go to such essential workers as first responders, teachers, grocery store workers, and others in frontline jobs, and to people over the age of 75.
“While right now, the vaccine is being made available to the priority populations, it is anticipated that by mid-2021, there should be enough vaccine for anyone who wants to receive it,” said Michele Cullen, the public health director for both counties.
There is no “list” that any first responder, healthcare worker or member of the public needs to get on at this point, according to the public health departments in Clinton and Jackson counties. Information will be shared via the counties’ public health websites and Facebook pages, as well as through The Observer website and Facebook page.
The counties follow the guidance of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Iowa Infectious Disease Advisory Council (IDAC), as released by the Centers for Disease Control.
Clinton County received 1,400 doses and Jackson County 700 doses on Dec. 22 for “Phase 1A” recipients, which include direct healthcare workers in hospitals, clinics, outpatient and community settings, and long-term care residents and staff. The Phase 1A vaccinations are continuing in both counties this week, Cullen said.
Maquoketa Care Center had its first vaccination clinic last week for residents and staff, and clinics at other long-term care locations in Clinton and Jackson counties are being held this week, health officials said. That includes WellSpire Westwing Place in DeWitt.
As of Friday, about 1,000 people in Clinton County and 450 people in Jackson County had been vaccinated.
Vaccines for Phase 1B recipients – other essential workers – won’t be available until at least the first of February because some larger counties in the state will need more time to complete Phase 1A, said Cullen, who sent a letter to local employers last Thursday seeking information to help Iowa’s Infectious Disease Advisory Council (IDAC) to develop a priority list and help determine vaccine allocations to counties.
That letter asked employers to survey how many of their staff would be interested in the vaccine and provide their job titles, as well as if the employer has a relationship with a local pharmacy or clinic, the entities that will likely be administering the shots.
As more vaccines become available, the state will review guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control’s advisory group to further prioritize populations to receive the vaccine in Iowa.
“The state has concerns over how large the (Phase 1B) group is and that the vaccine allocations coming into the state do not meet the needs,” Cullen wrote in the letter to employers.
“We have been informed that the guidance (from the state) should come out in a week or two,” she said.
Phase 1C of the vaccine will go to people aged 65 to 74 and those aged 16 to 64 who have medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19, and essential workers not previously included in Phase 1A or 1B, according to the CDC. Phase 2 includes all other people 16 and older.
More information on the phases can be found at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations.html.
Until the vaccine is widely available to all, it is critical that Iowans continue to practice the mitigation measures that can slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Cullen said. Those include wearing a mask or face covering, practicing social distancing with people outside the household, cleaning hands frequently with soap and water and staying home if you feel sick.
As of Monday morning, at least 80,621 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Iowa, according to the Washington Post. That number equals 37% of the population prioritized for vaccines, and 2.4% of the state’s overall population. Iowa has been allocated 217,725 doses, enough to vaccinate 100% of the prioritized population and 6.9% of the state’s total population, the Post said.
Some 6.7 million people in the United States had received the vaccination, and 22.1 million doses had been distributed, the Post said.
Here is a recap of other key events of the past week:
Rolling average up locally: The 14-day rolling average of positive cases on Monday among those tested increased to 17.6% in Clinton County, up from 14.2% a week earlier, and to 15.4% in Jackson County, up from 11.4% a week ago. To date, Clinton County has recorded 61 deaths and Jackson County 31 deaths related to COVID-19. As of Monday, Clinton County had 4,360 positive coronavirus cases and Jackson County 1,857 cases compared with 4,162 cases and 1,788 cases respectively a week before.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to increase nationwide: At least 22.4 million Americans had tested positive for the virus as of Monday, about 1.8 million more than a week earlier, according to the New York Times database. More than 374,428 patients with the virus have died. Worldwide, more than 90.3 million people have been sickened by the coronavirus pandemic, and more than 1.9 million have died. The virus has been detected in nearly every country.
COVID-19 has killed more Iowans than some major wars: Last week COVID-19 deaths in Iowa passed 4,000, topping the state’s death toll from some major wars, Perry Beeman reported in the Iowa Capital Dispatch. The coronavirus death toll in Iowa hit 4,124 on Friday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported. That is more than four times the 869 lost in the Vietnam War and more than the 3,576 who died in World War I. The coronavirus has claimed nearly half as many Iowans as died in World War II, 8,398, Beeman wrote.
COVID-19 infections and deaths on the rise in Iowa as vaccinations stall: The number of infections and deaths related to COVID-19 are on the rise again in Iowa, while the state’s vaccine distribution has slowed to the point where the governor expressed concern Thursday, according to a report by Clark Kauffman in the Iowa Capital Dispatch last week. The infection rate in Iowa has been increasing since Dec. 26, when the seven-day average of new, daily infections was 1,119. On Thursday, the seven-day average stood at 1,530. During that same period, the seven-day average of deaths each day has also increased, from 22 to 34. Gov. Kim Reynolds said the effort to immunize prioritized Iowans in nursing homes isn’t moving quickly enough. She said she plans to participate in a call with the CEOs of pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS to discuss the matter.
Spectator limits lifted Friday: Reynolds eliminated COVID-related limits on spectators at sports and recreational events last Friday. That includes high school events, which have been limited to the student athletes immediate household members since mid-December. Reynolds extended other COVID-19 mitigation measures until Feb. 6. Notably, Iowans age 2 and over must wear masks in indoor public spaces when they are unable to remain at least 6 feet apart for 15 minutes or more.
Iowa initial unemployment filings, continuing claims increase: Iowa workers filed 8,236 initial unemployment claims in the week ending Jan. 2, up from an adjusted 7,141 for the previous week, Iowa Workforce Development reported. November through February are typically months IWD sees the most unemployment claims, driven by seasonal layoffs in construction, agriculture, landscaping and manufacturing. The number of cases throughout the year has been elevated during the COVID-19 pandemic as businesses lay off staff members during the economic downtown. Before the pandemic, initial filings ranged from 1,000 to 3,000 a week. In April, as the pandemic worsened, they peaked at 64,194 in one week. The number of continuing weekly unemployment claims for the week ending Jan. 2 was 43,901, up 5,878 from an adjusted 38,023 the previous week. November through February are typically the months IWD sees the most unemployment claims, driven by increased claims in construction, agriculture, landscaping and manufacturing due to seasonal layoffs. For the week ending Jan. 2, nearly 68.6% of claimants indicated their claims were not COVID-19 related, which is a decrease from 70.6% the previous week.
The Iowa Capital Dispatch, Iowa Public Radio and other news sources contributed to this report.