Sioux County health officials urge community to follow coronavirus guidelines among rise in cases

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ORANGE CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Sioux County healthcare officials are asking the community to help slow the spread of the coronavirus as the county is experiencing a rise of COVID-19 cases.

That comes after administrators from the four Sioux County health systems met with community leaders via a Zoom call Friday to discuss the coronavirus outbreak in the region.

As of Monday morning, Sioux County has the highest 14-day average positivity rate among all Iowa counties, sitting at 29.6% according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

Officials also gave a status report of hospitalizations in the county. Sioux County has four hospitals caring for COVID-positive patients.

“Currently our hospital is at about 75% capacity and about half of those individuals are COVID-positive individuals. We’ve also seen an uptick in our emergency room care… I should say about 25% of our ER cases are also COVID-positive at this time. So it is placing additional challenges on our staff in both in our ER and the medical and surg[ery] floors,” said Cory Nelson, CEO at Sioux Center Health.

Nelson says Sioux Center Health is also taking care of some patients longer than they normally would, compared to when they might have sent those patients to another health facility.

A release from Orange City Area Health System said something similar, saying some of the more acute cases would normally be transferred to larger hospitals in Sioux Falls and Sioux City, but are being treated in Sioux County due to “increased demand.”

The release said that Sioux Falls-area hospitals said they continue to accept critical COVID patients.

MercyOne Siouxland hospital in Sioux City said that though cases in the community are regions have risen, they are not at capacity and are able to flex to 150% of our hospital capacity if needed.

As is reflected in recent public health department reports, the number of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 has risen in addition to the number of cases in our community/region. However, we are not at capacity and remain prepared to care for all those in need, including the ability to flex to 150% of our hospital capacity if needed.

We continue to encourage community members to wear face coverings, maintain physical distancing, limit group gatherings and practice good hand hygiene and sanitizing to minimize the spread of the virus.

Statement from MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center

A statement from UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s in Sioux City said that the number of patients hospitalized is increasing, but they also have the ability to flex to 150% of normal capacity if needed.

“As is referenced in the Siouxland District Health Department daily report, the number of patients hospitalized in Siouxland is continuing to increase. UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s is continuing to manage the increase in patients while ensuring we provide the safest care environment to meet the health care needs of our communities. Additionally, we still have the ability to flex to 150% of our normal capacity if needed. At UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s, the health and safety of our patients, communities and team members is at the center of everything we do. You can do your part by continuing to protect your health, your family and your community by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands and staying home when you’re sick.”

Statement from UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s

Sioux County health officials said they believe they are able to provide care to those who need it, they are asking for schools and colleges to help slow the spread and set a good example. They said it an be done by doing the following.

  1. Mandate facial coverings/masks at every possible level to help reduce the viral load/spread
  2. Maintain recommended physical distancing protocols in all indoor facilities
  3. Continue to promote hand hygiene, and measures to sanitize/clean surfaces

Noting that state epidemiologists have not identified a specific source for the recent outbreak, health officials are urging churches, businesses, and residents to follow the guidelines.

While the guidelines are nothing new, the “current capacity situation in the county and regional hospitals calls for a more urgent response,” the release states.

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