• Last modified 707 days ago (Sept. 9, 2020)


COVID-19 soars at record pace

Staff writer

Three new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday ended a day’s reprieve from news of the pandemic’s steady climb in Marion County.

The cases bring the county’s new total to 97. They include a male in his 60s, as well as probable reports for a male in his teens and a woman in her 40s.

A positive case is someone who has tested positive for the virus using clinical laboratory testing.

A probable case means that it meets clinical criteria and epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed, meets clinical criteria or epidemiologic evidence with presumptive laboratory evidence, or meets vital records criteria with no confirmatory laboratory testing.

Since Sept. 2 there have been 15 new cases, or just over two new cases a day.

The jump in cases among men in their teens and twenties sparked rumors of a COVID-19 clusters in the county.

Phone calls to Marion school district’s office were still not answered nearly a week after its office staff were reported to be in quarantine. Marion’s school superintendent Aaron Homburg was reported be in isolation with COVID.

Several members of Marion High’s football team were also reported to be in quarantine, but athletic director Jason Hett said he had no information about the situation.

Officials at Tabor College were equally mum on the status of three of its athletes placed in isolation with diagnoses of COVID-19, and five other Tabor students — presumed to be teammates — placed in quarantine.

Mike Gardner, head football coach at the college, declined to comment and directed questions to Emir Esparza, the college’s dean of student life, learning, and formation.

Neither he nor other officials at Tabor which included David Ediger, associate director of athletic communication; Martin Ziesemer, athletic director responded.

The president’s office at Tabor College then issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon.

“The number of students in isolation and quarantine is decreasing,” it said.

“All the trends are going in a positive direction.  The football game and all other sporting events scheduled for this weekend are moving forward as planned.”

Health department administrator Diedre Serene also was contacted and did not respond by press time.

Recent cases including three men in their 20s and one in his teens were reported Sunday. Another was identified Friday as a man in his 40s, as well as a woman and four men on Thursday, all five of whom were in their 20s.

Laboratory tests were used to confirm the results for the man in his 40s and the 20-year-old woman. The male victims in their teens and 20s listed from Thursday to Sunday developed COVID-19 symptoms after being exposed to a known victim of the virus. In such cases, tests are considered unnecessary.

On Wednesday, a boy in his teens and a woman in her 80s were reported to have the virus.

As of Tuesday evening, health officials said 21 cases remained active, meaning patients were being isolated or treated for symptoms. None were reported to be hospitalized, but the number of active cases matches a record high reported earlier in the week.

In total, 1,640 COVID-19 tests have been done in the county with 1,543 negative results.

The county’s infection rate per 1,000 people now stands at 8.1, up 1.3 from where it was a week ago.

An increase of more than 1.0 in any seven-day period is enough to qualify for inclusion on a federal list of counties rated as “red zones” for rising COVID-19 infection rates.

Some cities nationwide have adopted requirements that anyone returning from a visit to a “red zone” county must quarantine for two weeks before returning to normal activities.

— Additional reporting by Mindy Kepfield

Last modified Sept. 9, 2020