Johnson County sees low level of COVID-19 community spread, single-digit cases

Johnson County may see fewer COVID-19 mitigation efforts inside of businesses and county buildings after the CDC categorized the county as “low”.

Sabine Martin, News Editor

Johnson County has entered a low community level for COVID-19 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metrics, permitting fewer county-wide virus mitigation measures.

Johnson County Public Health Division Manager Sam Jarvis told the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on March 16 that the county will continue to promote COVID-19 vaccines, readily available tests, and good ventilation going forward. Every county in Iowa except Appanoose and Davis counties is in low transmission.

“We have seen the removal of a lot of other physical partitions and barriers that were once put up in intersections and points of high interaction,” he said. “Things like that can be thought to be removed.”

The CDC categorizes a county as experiencing a “low” COVID-19 community level if it has:

  • Fewer than 200 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last 7 days.
  • Less than 10 percent of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Jarvis added that in the last seven days, there have been less 100 cases in the county. There were two COVID-19 cases in Johnson County on March 15, he said.

Johnson County had an average of 11 COVID-19 cases since March 19, according to The New York Times COVID-19 database.

The county, Iowa City, and the Iowa City Community School District recently ended their face-covering policies for staff and visitors in county buildings.

The University of Iowa reported one COVID-19 case among employees and students since March 18.

“Going into the spring, summer, and probably perpetuity, we will continue to promote COVID-19 vaccines,” Jarvis said.

While COVID-19 cases are single-digits, Jarvis said the county plans to continue to monitor cases after spring break.

“With that, in the context, we do know it is also spring break, so we know that there is probably a less desire to do so at the moment,” he said.

COVID-19 variant BA.2

Jarvis said the county hasn’t seen BA.2, the newest COVID-19 variant that has spread in the Northeastern and Western U.S., in Iowa’s State Hygienic Lab test results to date.

“From what it sounds like, from what is being referred to as the BA.2 variant of omicron,” he said. “And so right now something of note is it’s being described as just as contagious if not more. As we have seen throughout multiple variants and phases…what we see happen globally may end up in our backyard.”