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COVID-19 Dubuque County: 31 residents now hospitalized; county government rebuked from within

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A White House Coronavirus Task Force report found that the virus infected and killed about twice as many people per capita in Iowa, as the national average, between October 10 and October 16.

The report says new case numbers have climbed for weeks, and the state's test positivity rate also rose.

Hospitalizations in Iowa have hit an all-time high.

In Dubuque County, coronavirus spread presenting a huge challenge to health officials -- over 14% of those tested are deemed to have contracted the virus.

As of Friday morning, one additional person in Dubuque County has died due to COVID-19 and 31 residents in the county are currently hospitalized. This excludes those from other counties being treated in Dubuque.

This comes amid a public rebuke from within county government.

The CDC again changed crucial guidance this week, related to the definition of "exposure" to a COVID-positive person that is set to change how many people contact tracers consider.

The CDC now saying "close contact" occurs when anyone is within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour time period. Before, those 15 minutes of contact had to be consecutive to meet the criteria.

"In other words, we're finding out more information on how the SARS-CoV-2 virus works," said Mary Rose Corrigan, City of Dubuque Public Health Specialist.

Dubuque County recorder John Murphy publically rebuked other offices within Dubuque's county courthouse. Murphy accused the public offices of citing these guidance changes, to justify flouting long-held standards pertaining to masks and social distance indoors. He is concerned positive cases of COVID-19 have potential to spread to the public from the public officers and their staff.

Murphy, dissatisfied with the county's lack of a universal standard in their response, is imploring the public to quote 'stay away' from the courthouse.

Murphy told KWWL he has observed at least three other offices' staff meet with members of the public who enter the building, without masks. Murphy did not say which County offices he was referring to.

He says he tried to spur action internally first, but was dissatisfied with the answers he was given.

"[In the press release] I put it as blunt as I can, without laying it at people's feet, which I don't think would be very productive," Murphy said.

"I wanted to make sure that at the end of the day, we're doing something to protect our staff and protect the public. We never did get there," Murphy said in reference to his conversations with fellow government officials.

The County issued a press release in response, saying in part,

"Dubuque County is working to keep our public buildings safe for the public and for our employees. The public should feel safe masking up to visit the courthouse or the elections annex to vote in person or to conduct their business."

AJ Capuano

Dubuque bureau reporter, KWWL

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