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Omicron variant cases increase in southeast Iowa

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Health department leaders in Lee County and Des Moines County have both reported increases of infections from the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross said the latest numbers revealed 21 positive cases among residents during a recent seven-day period. However, that is down from the 32 positive cases reported in the county during the previous week. Ross said those numbers do not account for those Lee County residents who have opted to use a take-home test kit.

“It does look like it's gone down from in the last couple of weeks from that report, which is a good thing,” Ross said. “But you know in Iowa, as across the United States, we've seen a little bit of increased activity. Nothing like it was back in January when we were having surges of cases, but from probably about the end of March we're seeing a little bit of increases, but nothing totally alarming.”

Ross said she has noticed most infections in Lee County are among those residents who are 50 years old and older.

“In Iowa it seems to be the older Americans are the ones that are coming down with the more serious illness leading to hospitalization,” Ross said. “So, I just wanted to recommend to those that are 50-plus years of age, if they haven't got their second booster, to do so because that will just help give them that added protection.”

To the north, in neighboring Des Moines County, health department administrator Christa Poggemiller also said cases of Omicron infections are up across the county, where an undetermined number of residents have also used take-home test kits.

“We are seeing kind of an uptick in our county,” Poggemiller said. “The thing is it's really hard to tell as far as what those numbers are, specifically because you know we have a lot of take-home tests out now.”

Poggemiller said that as infection numbers increase, people should continue to take precautions by monitoring their health and regularly washing their hands.

“As we see increases in the numbers, we want to make sure that people are taking good care of themselves,” Poggemiller said.

Both Poggemiller and Ross advise that anyone who is sick and suspects they have been infected with the Omicron variant should quarantine themselves. Ross also said that residents should receive the follow up with booster shots.

“This is a good time just to remind people that the virus is still out there,” Ross said, “and that if they're showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19, they really should get tested and then stay home while they're ill.”

Iowa residents looking for more information about possible taking at-home testing can go online to

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