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Outbreak among vaccinated IVH residents

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO A health worker gives a shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is preventing people from getting too sick from the virus, but not from contracting the virus.

The outbreak of eight cases of the COVID-19 virus on the Iowa Veterans Home campus was first found on June 22 when a vaccinated staff member tested positive.

Acting Commandant Penny Cutler-Bermudez said the positive result led to the mass testing of residents. From that, five asymptomatic vaccinated residents were tested positive. Two additional residents have since been found positive.

“All seven residents are stable today, although two of the residents are in hospice care” Cutler-Bermudez said. “They were in hospice care prior to testing positive.”

One of the residents required hospitalization but was able to return to the campus.

“They are all under close observation and care from our UnityPoint nurse practitioner and medical director,” she said.

The residents are being housed in the COVID-19 wing and five are expected to return to their home unit on Thursday or Friday. Cutler-Bermudez said the other two should return shortly afterward. She also said they are not dealing with the significant respiratory illness seen prior to the vaccinations. All staff and residents continue to receive encouragement to vaccinate.

Cutler-Bermudez said IVH staff are in close contact with the Iowa Department of Public Health and are testing to determine which virus variant caused the outbreak.

“At this time, we continue to test our residents in the Malloy building every three days and will continue until we have no further positive tests,” she said.

The new outbreak does not surprise Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson and said there might be more — especially as the colder weather draws closer.

“Now people are outside, not too close and they are vaccinated,” she said. “When it is cold, we will move inside and be closer and kids are not vaccinated.”

Even though vaccinated people can still get COVID-19, Thompson said they are not ending up in the hospital. The shot has also reduced the effects COVID-19 has had on people’s health.

“Think of this as the flu season,” she said. “This vaccine is the only one we have, the only thing we have.”

Thompson still encouraged people to maintain social distancing, and said perhaps society moved too quickly to “return to normal.”

“We are rushing more than we should,” she said. “We are all in this together and we keep working to get everyone to the best place we can be.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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