In the past seven days, Iowa has had its largest increase in COVID-19 positive cases as well as hospitalizations. Madison County is not an exception. 

From the start of the pandemic, Madison County Health Care System has been prepared for higher volumes, but have remained relatively stable. That environment changed last week. 

Now, hospitals are experiencing the highest level of COVID-19 related hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. Madison County’s hospital is not yet at capacity and remains prepared to care for those in need. 

“We must band together and act now to lower the transmission rates so we lower the risk of overwhelming our health care systems,” Madison County Health Care System said in a press release. “It is critical we work together as a community to take the steps we know can reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

In addition, a new proclamation came from Governor Reynolds Monday night. Individuals are required to wear masks in indoor spaces open to the public, as well as State executive branch buildings. Masking is required when people are within 6 feet of one another for 15 minutes or longer.

Social, community, business, or leisure gatherings are limited to 15 people indoors, and 30 people outdoors. Such restrictions, according to the enhanced public health measures in place through at least Thursday, Dec. 10, apply to wedding receptions, family gatherings, conventions, and other nonessential gatherings, but do not apply to gatherings that occur during the ordinary course of business or government.

Further restrictions are in place for high school sports and extracurricular activities, as well as for restaurants and bars.

In addition to wearing masks, community members are encouraged to maintain physical distancing, limit group gatherings, and practice good hand hygiene and sanitizing to minimize the spread of the virus.

Flu shots ‘more important than ever’

In addition, the timing of this new wave of COVID-19 cases in our community coincides with the annual influenza season. 

“It is more important than ever to get your flu shot,” says Madison County Health Care System. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend all people six months and older get flu vaccinations to protect themselves and others from getting influenza.

Hospitals and clinics are safe, and providers are here to take care of you. It’s important to keep routine appointments and seek treatment for acute medical conditions. 

“We need everyone to take this seriously to slow the spread. Together, we can protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors,” said Madison County Health Care System.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 please visit coronavirus.iowa.gov or follow the Iowa Department of Public Health on Facebook. 

Locally, the public should get their information from Madison County Public Health, Madison County Health Care System, and Madison County Emergency Management. Residents are also encouraged to use the 2-1-1 hotline between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.