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Lee County health officials issue warning as COVID numbers rise

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FORT MADISON (WGEM) -- Officials from the Lee County Health Department say their coronavirus numbers are going in the wrong direction and residents need to take the necessary steps to prevent another surge.

"We all need to continue working together to make sure that doesn't happen because nobody wants to go backwards," administrator Michele Ross said.

She said it isn't hard to see why the numbers are going up.

"I think people are excited to get back outside and do things together. Now that we have vaccinations, people are probably getting a little bit more lax," she said.

The increases have been small with the seven day positivity rate going up only half a percent while the 14 day positivity rate is up only 0.1 percent.

But Ross said even little increases can lead to big trouble.

"We saw how fast our numbers spread when we had small pockets of outbreaks," she said.

Those at the Fort Madison Community Hospital say they haven't seen an increase in hospitalization so far.

"Historically when numbers have climbed and when we've seen numbers increase in the out-patient setting it has taken a little while for us to see that, a week or so, on the in-patient side," infection preventionist Heather Oppenheimer-Smith said.

She said with different variants, they're keeping an eye on what's happening.

"See what we're seeing with our population, what's happening with our patients and what we need to adapt in order to take care of everybody," Oppenheimer-Smith said.

Ross said for now people need to keep wearing a masks, keep socially distancing and get vaccinated at the first possible opportunity.

"Now's not the time to drop the ball and everything. We still need to protect ourselves and others," she said.

Ross said those who might be hesitant about taking the vaccine can call the health department and speak to a nurse who can answer any questions they may have.

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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