Benton County deals with uptick in Covid cases

Benton County Service Center

Health update is given at supervisors’ meeting

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – Benton County’s Public Health Director Katie Cox gave an update on how Benton County is dealing with Covid-19 at the Benton County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17, at the service center in Vinton.

“The past few week we’ve seen an update in cases,” Cox told the board. She the biggest thing they are dealing with now is the Delta Variant, which is more aggressive and spreads a lot faster, causing more severe illness. “So we continue to work on getting the vaccine out. We have open clinics throughout the week.”

The health department is also working closely with the schools as a new school year begins. There will be no mask mandates, as ordered by the governor, so they are working on other measures that encourage masking. They are working with school nurses on contact tracing which is more focused.

Cox added that they are also coming up on flu season.

She said they have a good structure with their pharmacies in getting the vaccine to people throughout the county. “We’ll just continue to work through things and see what this next year will bring.”

She anticipates a rise in cases as people all come back together.

She also explained booster shots. The vaccine supply is stable, so they’re able to get these to their vaccine partners.

Benton County is just under the 50 percent mark for people who are fully vaccinated. This will help Benton County as it goes into this fall and winter, Cox explained.

While masks are not mandated, she expects schools to encourage best practices with masking, especially for rooms that can’t be distanced. It’s also important to have hand sanitizing stations.

The supervisors pointed out Linn County is requiring masks in their buildings.

Supervisor Richard Primmer stressed vaccination is extremely important. He related that the day before, his wife’s cousin passed away from Covid. “It would be a miserable way to die – basically to suffocate to death.” He added, “It’s serious stuff. It really is.”

Primmer said the county needs to keep a close eye on this as protection for its employees, as well as its citizens.

“Until it hits home, you really don’t realize the full extent of this,” Primmer said.

Cox added, “We just have to keep real diligent and keep practicing these things as we come together – We really need to make good choices and I think everybody does a great job thinking about others.”

She concluded, “We’ll just keep learning more and help protect ourselves and each other.” She said the communities have really pulled together.

Sheriff Ron Tippett was also at the meeting and referred to the governor’s statement, saying that from the beginning, she is counting on Iowans to do the right thing.

Area Covid Numbers

Other business

Mona Krugger, mental health, was at the meeting to discussed the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) position and housing in Benton County. The new position is expected to be housed in Benton County. The county will be reimbursed for the regional position. A car for the position will also be reimbursed. If it is not reimbursed, the mileage will be reimbursed, according to Krugger. There are only 18 clients now for the region, but they hope to have more with the hiring of the coordinator. Board Chairman Tracy Seeman said he was on board for the new position and providing a room for the position. He needed more information on a vehicle and expenses. Krugger said she will get these clarified. No action was taken, as it was a discussion matter on the agenda. They hope to have the employee hired by Sept. 1.

Bids were discussed for a new sign truck for secondary roads. The county agreed to purchase a Freightliner, and will get the signage equipment installed. Engineer Myron Parizek estimated this will be purchased in the 2023 fiscal year.

The board discussed appointing their representative to the compensation board. Action on this was tabled.


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