UPDATE — Tabor athletes lead sudden surge in COVID cases. STORY
For the first time since county commissioners overturned a state mask mandate July 2, only one new case of COVID-19 was reported in the past five days.
A Tuesday announcement of a man in his 20s with a probable case of COVID-19 brings the county’s total to 63 cases — 52 cases confirmed by laboratory testing and 11 probable cases.
A probable case is when the person is known to have been exposed to the virus and subsequently develops symptoms, but no test is done.
The county had 12 confirmed cases of the virus when county commissioners rejected the governor’s mask mandate.
The number of new cases then averaged 1.46 per day until Marion imposed its own mask ordinance July 27.
After that, the infection rate dramatically dropped to 0.48 per day. As of now, the overall percentage of COVID-19 cases in the county is 5.3% per 1,000 people.
The new case is the first since Aug. 19, when a woman in her 50s was confirmed to have the virus.
Marion city council members on Monday extended a July 27 mask ordinance to Dec. 31.
“I’m happy to see Marion has done that,” county health nurse Diedre Serene said. “I think it’s made a difference.”
Prior to the mask ordinance, the county was identified as a national “red zone,” with an infection rate of more than one case per 1,000 residents weekly.
Serene said she is a proponent of both wearing masks and limiting the size of public gatherings. People can find alternative ways to hold events, she said.
Serene said that while at a physician’s office Tuesday, she noticed a man wearing a mask despite being on oxygen.
“I think that’s how we are going to keep places open is to wear the masks,” she said.
Serene said county health consultant Don Hodson has said if 80% of residents wear masks, the spread of the virus will be slowed.
She noted the issue of wearing masks has become highly political and some people have become defiant.
At this time, two COVID-19 cases are active and no patients are hospitalized with the virus.
Countywide, 1,178 people have been tested for the virus, with 1,115 negative results.
The health department is tracing the new patient’s close contacts and anyone considered at risk will be placed in quarantine. A close contact is someone who was within six feet of the patient for 10 minutes or longer.
The health department recommends people stay home when sick, practice social distancing, thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, and wear a mask in public.