SIOUX CITY -- The number of COVID-19 infections in Woodbury County posted a marked rise during the last several weeks.
For the week ended June 28, there were 16 infections in the county, according to a weekly report from the Siouxland District Health Department. For the week ended July 5, there were 26 infections reported in the county. The following week, there were 58 infections. And in the week ended July 19, there were 70 new infections.
The percentage of tests coming back positive in that time period rose from 3.4 to 6 percent, according to the report. At present, the average two-week positivity rate in the county is at 5.2 percent.
District Health stopped daily COVID reports almost two months ago, citing a decline in cases and waning interest. Recently the health department began reporting weekly tallies to show the trend of increasing infections.
"Clearly cases are increasing at this time," the health department wrote in a social media post July 21.
Siouxland District Health director Kevin Grieme said Thursday that the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus has likely reached Woodbury County, and is probably a factor in the higher transmission rates.
"We're waiting to see on our labs specimens -- the state hygienic lab, they'll do the confirmation of the Delta," Grieme said.
The number of deaths attributable to the virus in Woodbury County now stands at 230, little changed from the toll reported in the final daily report of June 5, when the death toll was 229. The health department's new reports do not include hospitalization data.
In Woodbury County, 36,844 people have completed a two-dose vaccine series and another 4,674 people have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to Iowa Department of Public Health data. There has been only a modest uptick in vaccinations in the county over the last two months -- the majority of Woodbury County's vaccinations took place prior to mid-May, by which time demand had begun to taper off.
This equates to roughly 40 percent of the county's entire population, and almost 50 percent of the eligible population, vaccinated against the virus. Grieme said that roughly 300 or 325 vaccine doses "at most" are administered per week in the county.
"Our (vaccination) growth is not that fast, when you're looking at 103,000 total population," said Grieme.
The number of COVID infections nationwide has made a dramatic upswing from the lull of June and early July. 80,701 infections were reported in the U.S. on July 27, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, compared to 8,064 on June 14. The CDC this week updated its recommendations on masks this week, urging people to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
The Delta variant of the virus has played a major role in the national increase in infections.
The numbers are also up in Dakota County, Nebraska, where 16 infections were reported in a two-week period ended July 26, compared to five infections in the two weeks ended July 12, according to the Dakota County Health Department. Dakota County has recorded 82 deaths attributable to the virus.
In Nebraska's four-county health district comprising Cedar, Dixon, Thurston and Wayne counties, the weekly number of infections has gone from eight in the week ended July 3 to 26 in the week ended July 24.
The weekly positivity rate of these counties, meanwhile, went from 9.4 to 22.2 percent in that same time period, according to a report from the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department. The four counties collectively have lost 53 people to the virus.
Southeast South Dakota has reported relatively little virus activity -- though numbers are somewhat higher in Union County, where the weekly positivity rate is around 11.3 percent, and 17 people are currently infected, according to South Dakota Department of Health data.
Neighboring Clay and Yankton counties have four and five active infections, respectively, and positivity rates of 1.8 and 3.6 percent.