SIOUX CITY -- Sioux City School District officials had expressed hope there would not be an uptick of COVID-19 positive cases among students and employees following the long holiday break, and that's exactly what has happened, with only two cases reported over three weeks in January.
There were zero cases reported for the week ended Friday, and there had only been one case in each of the first two weeks of January since classes resumed.
Additionally, there are fewer students lately out of school in precautionary quarantine. In order to reduce the virus impact, district workers continue taking steps such as extensive cleaning and sanitizing places that are heavily used in buildings, and face masks are required in buildings.
Virus positive tests are also dropping in the metro and surrounding Siouxland counties.
As of Friday, the number of positive cases in Woodbury County was just under 13,100, a total that was about 140 more than one week ago. There have been 181 deaths from COVID-19 in Woodbury County, with the number rising by two from Thursday, and six having occurred over the last seven days.
There were six deaths reported in Siouxland on Friday, with one in Clay County, South Dakota, where the total rose to 14. In Northwest Iowa, the five deaths included the two in Woodbury County, one in Osceola County, which now has 11 deaths, one in Plymouth County, where the total rose to 70, and one in Monona County, where there have now been 18 deaths.
A virus vaccine first became available in Siouxland in December. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 4,111 coronavirus vaccine doses had been administered to Woodbury County residents. The second highest total in Northwest Iowa was 1,480 doses in Sioux County.
Also on Friday, a total of 29 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center or UnityPoint Health -- St. Luke's, according to the Siouxland Public Health Department. Of those patients, 21 were hospitalized for treatment of the virus, a number that had decreased by 12 since Tuesday.
The school district in early September began the Friday practice of releasing the number of positive cases determined within the district over each week.
The pandemic impact trend in the Sioux City district lessened in December. The Dec. 18 report, the last report prior to the break, showed four students and six employees tested positive, while the numbers the prior week had 12 students testing positive.
Classes had been in a hybrid version of learning for the first two weeks of January, in a decision made by the Sioux City School Board on Dec. 14 to lessen any impact of pupils and staff from mingling with friends and family over the holiday break. That setup ended Jan. 14.
From early October to December, more than two dozen class sections converted from in-person to virtual learning for two weeks, as higher virus numbers showed up in varying schools.
One other statistical recap showed the number of students, out of a pupil population of just under 15,000, who were out of buildings while quarantining due to the virus. The most recent number was for Tuesday, when 192 students were absent via quarantine, while a prior amount one week ago was 240, as compared to 265 in the first week of January.
There were 505 students absent via quarantine on Dec. 22 and 406 on Dec. 15. Those totals can vary greatly from day to day, as pupils begin or end quarantines of roughly 10 days.
The release noted that for each positive case reported, contact tracing is done in conjunction with Siouxland District Health Department. Individuals who test positive, as well as any individuals identified as close contacts, are directed to self-isolate or self-quarantine and take other appropriate measures in accordance with state and public health guidance.