MCC adapting to COVID this fall

Unvaccinated filling hospital beds

Nate Chua has had more follow-up meetings with students reporting COVID-19 symptoms than he would have liked eight days into the fall semester.

Marshalltown Community College’s Dean of Students tracks and reports virus activity on campus weekly. While he’s spoken with several students who have been concerned about symptoms or close contact with a COVID-infected person, he notes students may be more used to self reporting than they were last year.

“Students know if they’re not feeling well they should follow up right away,” he said. “Our base has been it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Students are encouraged to self report symptoms on the Iowa Valley Community College District website. Confirmed cases for all IVCCD schools are updated weekly on the IVCCD website.

Two cases are reported for MCC on the site which reflects last week, but Chua said an additional positive was confirmed bringing the total to three.

The approach to keeping students safe on campus is similar to what it was last year. The main difference is the school isn’t allowed to have a mask mandate.

Instructors have prepared for any worst case scenario should there be an outbreak on campus, or if the state’s COVID numbers reach levels seen last fall.

“Based on last year, we went into this year encouraging faculty to have your courses designed to have that potentially virtual option,” Chua said. “If we see incident data shows rates are high and we need to go virtual for a time, we feel confident all of our instructors here have mostly gone through that before.”

Virus activity in Marshall county is on the rise, as it is throughout the state. The county’s rate of infection has increased in consecutive weeks while the state has a 9-percent average of positive cases in the last seven days, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Twenty-nine percent of the positive cases in Iowa in the last seven days have been children 17 years old or younger.

There are 539 people hospitalized with the virus — up 15 from last week. Of those hospitalized, 137 are in intensive care and 86 were admitted in the last 24 hours. Total inpatient beds available across the state dropped to 32 percent. The IDPH dashboard no longer reports the number of patients on ventilators.

COVID-19 is the primary diagnosis in 408 current hospitalizations.

People who are not fully vaccinated account for more than 90 percent of ICU patients and more than 82 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

There have been 6,307 deaths related to the virus in Iowa but no new deaths have been reported this week. Marshall County has had 79 deaths.

More than 67 percent of Marshall County residents 18 or older have been fully vaccinated. This is a 14 percent increase from a week ago according to IDPH.

In spite of the increase in virus spread, Chua is optimistic about the fall semester at MCC.

“We feel good about the start of the year,” he said. “Students for the most part are doing things to keep themselves safe and keep the community safe.


• Seven day percent of positive test rate: 6-percent

• Seven day number of cases: 136

• CDC transmission level: HIGH

• Fully vaccinated: 67 percent

• New deaths this week: 0

• Total deaths: 79


For COVID case numbers at IVCCD schools, visit iavalley.edu/covid-19-dashboard. Students are encourage to report COVID-19 symptoms and potential exposure with the virtual Student Reporting form, available at iavalley.edu/covid-student-reporting


Contact Joe Fisher at news@timesrepublican.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today