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Dubuque County posting ‘red zone’ 14.4% virus positivity rate

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) ----- The COVID-19 curve is refusing to go down in Dubuque, creating cause for concern among county health officials.

After a surge in cases of COVID-19 among young people during September, Dubuque remains a COVID-19 'red zone.' The county's 14-day positivity rate sits at 14.4% Tuesday.

At last night's Board of Supervisors meeting, the topic of a county0wide mask mandate resurfaced, despite such a measure failing about a month ago.

County health officials cite a new study of COVID hot-spots, with findings on on why young adults (aged 19-24) are taking fewer precautions than necessary.

The CDC published a study from the Center for Infectious Disease Reasearch and Policy, finding that an average of 31 days before a location is flagged as a 'hot spot,' there's typically an increase of COVID-19 cases among young people.

"These young adults also stated their decisions were based on their belief that their own personal health would not suffer severe consequences," said Mary Rose Corrigan, public health expert with the City of Dubuque.

A number of additional factors such as peer pressure factor in.

"Just because young adults don't typically suffer serious illness or health effects from COVID-19, doesn't mean they shouldn't take it seriously and do their part to prevent the spread," said Corrigan. "We are now seeing increases in the 40-70 year olds, through September and continuing into October."

At 14.4%, the county-wide positivity rate is just below the 15% threshold
which the Governor says is needed before schools can pursue waivers for online learning.

For now, Dubuque Community Schools are experiencing a low case count compared to the county, with 8 active cases among students, and 7 among staff.

District leaders say they're keeping that mix of online and in person classes for now --- while looking to bring more students back into the classroom sooner rather than later.

Superintendent Stan Rheingans says there are concerns about the viability of continually funding online and hybrid models if they continue into the start of the next calendar year. Rhenigans has said that even if the district does return to full-time, in-person learning, they will likely allow students who want to learn virtually to do so.

AJ Capuano

Dubuque bureau reporter, KWWL

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