This summer is looking a lot different than last for most Siouxlanders as events, concerts and other activities return following the pandemic. One year ago, the Siouxland District Health Department was full steam ahead working to slow the spread of COVID-19. This year, it's a different message.
"You know the number of new cases has dramatically decreased," said Director Kevin Grieme. "When we're looking at the comparison from a year ago, to what it is now I say everything looks pretty good."
Woodbury County's positivity rate is sitting around 2% with just a handful of new cases reported each week, 37 total so far in June. The focus now is vaccinations.
"I think the one step that we're really at is just really concerned about residents seeking out the vaccine," Grieme said about residents' hesitation to get vaccinated. "And I think that's the next phase of the education and support we need to put together."
While the health department is no longer holding mass vaccination clinics, there are still several ways to get your shot, like pharmacies and primary care providers, Grieme says. "We're just really trying to educate the community about the aspect of it is safe, it is functional, it's probably the right thing to do."
Grieme says that as Siouxlanders return to their pre-pandemic activities, it's important to remember that if you don't feel well for any reason, it's best to stay home.
"If you don't feel well and have slight symptoms. Our recommendation is please don't go," Grieme said. "Don't go to those mass events. You don't know what it would be, whether it could be COVID even if you're vaccinated, there's a small percentage that may contract it, but the reality of it is any illness that you have just stay home."
After the last 18 months, Grieme and the team at the Siouxland District Health Department can now breathe a little easier.
"I think we've eventually known this was going to happen and we kept seeing little glimmers of light in the tunnel, but I think right now to be where we're at, I said we have to be quite happy with the prospect of summer coming up, and we're just hoping people take the right choices."
There are also some positives to come out of the pandemic.
"There are many more organizations that understand the impact and the relevance of public health to the work that they normally do," Grieme said. "And when something, a disease of virus such as COVID-19 gets out of hand, the real impact it could have. And I think one of the things that we see as an organization is we want to continue the partnerships will establish continue to build upon those or to do put into parameters and aspects that protect the health of the public."
According to the Iowa COVID-19 dashboard, more than 32,000 Woodbury County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
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