SIOUX CENTER—As of Monday, May 25, Sioux County had a total count of 207 positive COVID-19 cases with 97 who have recovered.
Since mid-March, Sioux Center Health CEO Cory Nelson said 41 of those positive cases were confirmed through testing at Sioux Center Health, which has tested a total of 213 individuals using the nasal swab technique. Thirteen of those COVID-19 tests were still pending as of Tuesday morning.
All samples taken locally are sent on to the state testing lab or an Avera Health lab.
During Memorial Day weekend, Nelson said five people with positive tests were hospitalized at Sioux Center Health. They ranged in age from 24-84.
“All of them are managing with normal health care and isolation precautions,” Nelson said. “It’s not unexpected for us to have these hospitalizations. We’ve been very fortunate in Sioux Center and the surrounding areas to not have hospitalizations to this point. This is part of the progression of the virus moving through the state and our region.”
Nelson said the hospital is considering a midsummer time frame of getting back to where it was pre-COVID with precautions.
“That’s a moving target, of course, depending on what happens with COVID positive tests, especially with Test Iowa coming,” Nelson said. “Test Iowa should tell us some interesting data to help us make more decisions.”
According to coronavirus.iowa.gov, there will be Test Iowa site noon-6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 27-28, at Sioux Center Middle School.
Sioux County will be one of the first 11 counties in Iowa to host a site. N’West Iowa’s most populated county has seen a steady increase in confirmed coronavirus cases going from 25 on May 4 to 207 as of Monday.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office previously attributed to the uptick in Sioux County to surveillance testing, which is essentially targeted testing at sites “where there are confirmed cases and likely exposures have increased.”
Test Iowa is a $26 million private/public partnership between the state of Iowa and a Utah tech firm designed to provide faster and effective testing for the coronavirus; however, the program, which sprung from a recommendation by actor Ashton Kutcher to Reynolds, has come under fire for not meeting expectations and delayed/lost results.
During her news conference Thursday, May 21, Reynolds announced that any Iowan who wants a coronavirus test is eligible for one. There is no cost to take the test.
Call Test Iowa at 515-575-2131 or 1-844-844-1561 for more information on testing. Phone lines are open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
“This is good thing for people,” Nelson said. “There’s always a certain number of people who are uncertain whether or not they have COVID. This is an opportunity for them to get tested just as it has been for other people across the state.”
While the state staffs these sites, Sioux Center Health will be involved in the follow up with individuals “because anytime there’s a positive test in a household, we encourage them to contact their regular care provider to discuss what do to next with that diagnosis,” Nelson said.
In other COVID-19 related matters for Sioux Center Health, Nelson said Sioux Center Health’s COVID-19 Call Center at 712-722-8324 had its second-highest call volume with 299 calls last week compared May 4-11 with 311 calls. Nelson also noted the hospital saw 91 people in its respiratory clinic within the past week, which is more than its ever had.
However, Sioux Center Health’s virtual visits were down slightly, with 85 people choosing that option, “which means more people are coming to the clinic to get more of their routine care, which is good,” Nelson said. “We’re encouraging people to contact their providers and get in for those annual check ups, wellness visits, preventive care things because we don’t want them to miss something that could have been caught earlier.”
In total, Sioux Center Health’s medical clinic volume is at about 81 percent. It’s satellite clinics in Hull and Hawarden have a volume of about 85-90 percent.
Sioux Center Health’s main campus continues to utilize a tent outside for seeing patients who have some compromised immune systems and are comfortable coming into the clinic yet, Nelson said. The hospital has about five such appointments daily, which is a number that’s also declining.
“We’re looking at taking the tent down and moving back toward regular business later in June,” Nelson said, noting that urgent care is running its regular Saturday and Sunday hours once again.
Reopening urgent care during weeknights as well as bringing back regular clinic hours in June is part of the hospital staff’s discussion this week.
“We know when sports get going and people start doing more outside there’s a need for urgent care,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to slowly open the hospital back up and get things close to normal as we can.”