Mills County Has First COVID-19 Death

A Mills County resident has died from COVID-19.

The person, between the age of 61-80, died at an area hospital, according to an announcement made on Wednesday, Aug. 12, by the Mills County Public Health Office. The individual, Mills County’s first COVID-19 fatality, contracted the virus through community spread.

“It is with heavy heart I make this announcement and we wish to extend our sympathy to this individual’s family,” Mills County Public Health Administrator Julie Lynes said. “Mills County Public Health and all of our key partners throughout the county and state continue to work to limit the spread and impact of this virus in our communities.”

The person who died was Mills County’s 42nd confirmed case of COVID-19 and had been battling the coronavirus for several weeks.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Mills County climbed to its highest level in July and the number of weekly cases has remained relatively steady over the past month.

“I think we are probably going to continue to stay on the trend that we are right now. I don’t see our numbers changing a whole lot,” Lynes said in an interview with The Opinion-Tribune. “I’m kind of eyes wide open looking as the school year starts – having really good practices in play and hoping that we can stay in the brick and mortar buildings with good infection control.”

Lynes said she believes Mills County residents are well educated on COVID-19 and are aware of the best practices to prevent spread of the virus, but her staff is also encountering resistance to contact tracing when cases have been confirmed.

“What we’re seeing from our perspective is that contact tracing is really beginning to be a struggle because people don’t want to comply with it,” she said. “It’s not everybody, it’s not across the board, but it’s a number that’s significant enough to be a concern.”

Contact tracing is an important tool used to determine who may have been in contact with individuals infected with the virus.

Since early July, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and other medical experts have recommended and strongly encouraged the wearing of facial masks in public settings to prevent spread of the virus. Lynes believes it’s a recommendation that’s getting resistance in Mills County.

“There’s work to be done. I don’t know that it’s gotten better,” she said. “When I go out in Mills County, I don’t see great compliance with it.”

Lynes stressed she doesn’t want to use “scare tactics” or “worst-case scenarios” in addressing the virus, but she’s also not interested in “lightly dismissing it.”

“I really wish we could just come to a common understanding that we should not be dismissive of COVID-19 and we should not be overly fearful of it,” she said. “We should use really mindful and intelligent mitigation strategies and navigate our way through this until we have some better options bubble up, such as a vaccine.”

As of Tuesday morning, Mills County had 97 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The county has a 6.1 perent 14-day positivity rate of 2862 known COVID-19 tests.

Lynes said the county has experienced a “very big mix” of cases, ranging from asymptomatic to those requiring hospitalization.

“We do have a significant population that contracts the disease and they’re mildly ill so they have almost no symptoms to very mild symptoms and they make a pretty quick recovery,” she said. “Then, I would say we have a significant number that has symptoms similar to a really bad case of the flu, they are really just down and out for a good 10 days and then they make a pretty good recovery. Then, we have a significant population that really has difficulty kicking the case.

“I think we need to take COVID-19 very seriously, but not extreme.”

The Opinion-Tribune

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