Jefferson County COVID case jump may be due to new process

FAIRFIELD — The Iowa Department of Public Health recently changed how it reports COVID cases, and this has created the impression of a surge in cases in late February.

Jefferson County Public Health Administrator Chris Estle said the state switched from reporting the number of people with positive tests to the total number of positive tests. Under the old way of counting, a person who was tested for COVID multiple times and who returned multiple positive tests was just counted as one case, but under the new counting method, each positive test is added to the tally.

Jefferson County’s positive case numbers were steadily declining through January and into February, dropping to 35 positive cases on Feb. 18. However, that number jumped to 136 the following day, and has been between 120-130 ever since. Estle said this seeming explosion in cases is actually due to the change in the way the state counts COVID cases.

“It is confusing for the public to experience continued changes,” Estle said.

The Fairfield Community School District reports daily positive case counts for Jefferson County on its homepage, which reflects this apparent jump in cases on Feb. 19.