Recently, both the MercyOne Hospital in Mason City and the Hancock County Health System in Britt were near capacity with COVID-19 cases. MercyOne opened more space to try and handle the load.
The Wright County Board of Health issued the mandate Tuesday as a way to combat rising Covid-19 numbers. Sandy McGrath, who is the Director of the Wright County Public Health Department explained.
Wright County will now require masks in all indoor public spaces. Public gatherings in Wright County will be limited to 10 people unless appropriate social distancing and mask compliance can be carried out. The ordinance calls for spectators at extracurricular school activities to wear a mask at all times and only parents will be allowed as spectators. Police in Wright County will checking local restaurants and bars to ensure the ordinance is being complied with.
McGrath explained that there are testing sites available if people feel ill and may suspect something.
Some individuals may not even know that they have COVID-19 because of other health issues they may have.
Winnebago and Hancock Counties were still above the 10% positive test threshold and numbers continue to rise. While the counties have not followed suit with Wright County in their mask mandate, health and emergency management officials are strongly encouraging the use of masks and social distancing.
Winnebago and Hancock County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Buffington has previously warned that everyone should continue to mask up with cases on the rise locally.
However, Buffington warns that it does not stop there.
Statewide, more than 3,000 Iowa nursing home residents have the virus and there were nearly 1,200 COVID-19 patients in Iowa hospitals on Tuesday night. The fear is that this surge threatens to overwhelm the system both locally and on a statewide level. Governor Kim Reynolds warns rationed care may be on the horizon should coronavirus cases continue to rise.
On a national scale, the U.S. set a record Tuesday night for the number of patients hospitalized due to coronavirus. Two percent of those patients were in Iowa hospitals.
On Tuesday, the state reported 4,428 Iowans had tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours. That is 460 more than were reported in the entire state of New York on Tuesday. Reynolds is asking Iowans to spend as little time outside their homes as possible.
Reynolds asked to Iowans cancel or postpone parties and get-togethers and avoid situations where others are not following pandemic basics, like wearing a mask.
She is now limiting the size of crowds at high school events, like band concerts, basketball games, wrestling matches. Each athlete and student participating will be allowed to have just two people in the crowd. Reynolds has not issued a mask mandate for schools, however. About 60% of Iowa districts require masks inside schools.