Hundreds of students quarantined as COVID surges across Iowa

State racks up over 1,300 new cases in 24 hours.

Posted: Sep 24, 2020 6:58 PM

(ASSOCIATED PRESS) - Dozens of students in Iowa schools were quarantined after both staff and students tested positive for the coronavirus, while a high school switched to online classes after some students were absent as cases surged Thursday by more than 1,300 across the state in the last 24 hours.

An Iowa elementary school quarantined 130 elementary students after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus, while a high school switched to online classes after some students were absent as coronavirus cases surged Thursday by more than 1,300 across the state in the last 24 hours.

Officials at the Hartwick-Ladora-Victor Community School District quarantined 130 kindergarten through sixth grade students beginning Wednesday after a staff member tested positive for the virus a day earlier, Superintendent Brad Hohensee said.

The district has no mask requirement, though it has posted a notice on its website that it began requiring masks at indoor athletic events on Sept. 20. The district is based in Victor, nearly 76 miles east of Des Moines.

North Scott High School, which is quarantining more than 200 high school students due to positive tests, went to all online instruction last Friday, according to a Sept. 17 letter the school sent to the Iowa Department of Education.

The district, based in Eldridge in eastern Iowa, said its absentee rate has spiked since school started Sept. 1 and was 23% at the high school as of Sept. 18.

“We anticipate this number will continue to rise with the amount of students we have out with symptoms,” the district wrote in its notification to the state. North Scott Superintendent Joe Stutting himself went into quarantine after announcing on Aug. 29 he tested positive.

There are 14 counties exceeding a 15% positivity rate, the threshold Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has set for which school districts can seek at-home learning temporarily. That level is three times higher than the 5% rate recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other medical professionals. Reynolds requires at least half of a school district's educational offering to be in person unless they seek to go online due to high positivity rates or absentees.

North Iowa, Iowa City and Ames received state approval and are temporarily using a remote learning option. Requests from Lynnville-Sully and Fremont-Mills are under review, an Iowa Department of Education spokeswoman said.

Sioux County, in northwestern Iowa, has the highest positivity rate at 30.6%, which Reynolds acknowledged Tuesday is extremely high and that health officials are investigating.

The Sibley-Ocheyedan district in neighboring Osceola County has 201 students and staff in isolation or quarantine as of Wednesday after 18 students and eight staff members tested positive. Superintendent James Craig is among them due to close contact with a confirmed case. The district, despite the county’s 27.3% positivity rate, continued Thursday to hold in-school lessons.

“We are putting together new social distancing guidelines for our district that will help slow the spread in our district,” Craig said in an email.

Becky Drissell, a 41-year-old resident of Sioux Center and treasurer of the Sioux County Democrats, said people aren't wearing masks or practicing social distance. She said she home schools her children,

“The political climate has just dismissed it," Drissell said referring to masks. “Even as President Trump has pulled back a little bit more and endorsed mask wearing, around here nobody wears masks and nobody social distances.”

Northwest Iowa is a heavily Republican area. Trump carried Sioux County in 2016 with 80% of the presidential vote, and Reynolds carried the county in 2018 with more than 85% of governor votes.

When asked at a press conference Tuesday whether it’s more difficult for her to tell constituents there to improve their behavior, Reynolds rejected the premise that political influence is a factor.

“I’m not making decision based on politics, and I don’t appreciate you indicating as such,” she said. “I’ve tried to be very specific in doing evidence-based decisions based on data. I don’t know what’s going on up there.”

Reynolds is one of a few Republican governors to reject mask mandates and currently has bars closed only in two counties where the largest state universities are located.

Iowa reported 1,341 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours as of Thursday morning and six additional deaths, bringing the state total to 1,299 deaths.

The Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll published Thursday indicated a significant drop in Iowa’s approval of Reynolds’ virus response.

The poll found 47% of Iowans say they disapprove of the job she has done while 44% approve. That’s a 15 percentage-point drop since June. Selzer & Co. conducted the poll of 803 Iowa adults from Sept. 14-17. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145465

Reported Deaths: 2491
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin36126997
Ramsey14966377
Dakota10420139
Anoka9573156
Washington649074
Stearns647850
Scott366636
Olmsted344930
St. Louis333074
Wright282516
Clay259145
Nobles236818
Blue Earth21367
Carver19167
Sherburne189924
Kandiyohi18695
Rice174210
Mower155318
Winona136219
Crow Wing120822
Chisago11912
Benton109012
Lyon10446
Beltrami9839
Otter Tail9808
Waseca95010
Todd9337
Polk8845
Morrison8529
Steele8173
Itasca80617
Douglas8044
Nicollet78318
Freeborn7275
Goodhue68211
Le Sueur6716
Becker6654
Martin63718
McLeod6294
Isanti6196
Pine5960
Watonwan5854
Carlton5372
Chippewa4893
Mille Lacs47118
Hubbard4695
Cass4385
Wabasha4281
Dodge4200
Pipestone37217
Meeker3703
Rock3665
Brown3653
Roseau3650
Redwood31012
Yellow Medicine3096
Murray3023
Cottonwood2990
Renville28613
Fillmore2840
Wadena2743
Sibley2733
Faribault2580
Houston2492
Kanabec23610
Swift2322
Jackson2261
Pennington2221
Aitkin2142
Unassigned20354
Stevens2001
Lincoln1970
Koochiching1775
Pope1740
Big Stone1671
Marshall1611
Wilkin1484
Lac qui Parle1473
Clearwater1431
Norman1410
Lake1390
Mahnomen1342
Grant1094
Red Lake842
Traverse610
Kittson540
Lake of the Woods471
Cook200

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 124963

Reported Deaths: 1700
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk20019290
Woodbury753099
Linn6256134
Black Hawk6154102
Johnson610731
Dubuque563959
Scott501843
Story416418
Dallas364047
Pottawattamie343145
Sioux259517
Buena Vista231812
Marshall217136
Webster200915
Plymouth176731
Wapello161062
Clinton159028
Muscatine156058
Cerro Gordo154527
Des Moines153911
Crawford140015
Warren13477
Jasper124034
Carroll123113
Henry11495
Marion109211
Lee103412
Tama102138
Delaware84314
Dickinson8159
Wright7781
Boone7659
Mahaska75125
Bremer7459
Jackson7193
Harrison71217
Washington71212
Benton6782
Lyon5868
Clay5684
Louisa54915
Jones5374
Winnebago52719
Clayton5263
Winneshiek5259
Cedar5217
Hardin5187
Buchanan5155
Kossuth5020
Hamilton4945
Poweshiek49411
Floyd47211
Emmet46221
Cass4563
Iowa45610
Mills4403
Cherokee4342
Page4270
Fayette4224
Guthrie42115
Allamakee4189
Sac4174
Butler4163
Shelby4112
Franklin40118
Humboldt3833
Chickasaw3821
Hancock3796
Madison3783
Clarke3633
Grundy3526
Calhoun3374
Palo Alto3352
Osceola3100
Mitchell3021
Howard2889
Monroe27512
Union2725
Jefferson2671
Taylor2632
Appanoose2583
Monona2562
Pocahontas2532
Ida2312
Fremont2172
Lucas2146
Adair2041
Greene1990
Montgomery1977
Davis1954
Van Buren1942
Keokuk1901
Audubon1831
Decatur1700
Wayne1553
Worth1550
Ringgold1042
Adams841
Unassigned90
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