Data provided by the Dubuque County COVID-19 Incident Management Team shows active cases increasing in every county ZIP code, but at a smaller per capita rate in those with the highest vaccination rates.
Dubuque County had 541 active cases of the virus as of Wednesday, Sept. 8. That number has risen steadily from 112 as of Aug. 4, with the vast majority of those being cases of the more infectious delta variant.
And according to Iowa Department of Public Health data distilled by the county team, those had reached each of the county’s 16 ZIP codes.
“We’re still not doing really, really well,” said Patrice Lambert, director of the Dubuque County Health Department. “If you are not vaccinated, please — if you have a question or concern, go to your health provider and have that addressed.”
Countywide, 70% of residents 12 and over had either begun their vaccination process or completed it. But, just 54.8% of Dubuque County residents are completely vaccinated. And that rate is skewed heavily urban and, therein, to wealthier areas of the City of Dubuque.
The ZIP code covering western Dubuque and Asbury had the highest fully vaccinated rate, at 62%.
The southern third of Dubuque was next with 60%.
The ZIP code containing Peosta and Centralia was at 58%.
Luxemburg and the surrounding area, though, had 57%.
The ZIP code covering Durango, Graf and Rickardsville had 54%.
The vaccination rate decreases steadily from there.
The ZIP code covering the north side of Dubuque plus Sageville, the county’s most populous, was at 49%.
Farley’s rate was 48%. Dyersville’s was 47%.
Smaller communities had steadily lower vaccination rates, bottoming out at Zwingle’s 18%.
Public health agencies and professionals from the Dubuque County Board of Health on up to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have said repeatedly that more than 70%, at least, of a population needs to be vaccinated and/or have long-term immunity to even approach herd immunity.
Per capita, most of the ZIP codes with higher than 51% vaccination rates were faring better in Dubuque County.
ZIP codes from the one covering Epworth and Bankston, which was at a 51% vaccination rate, down to Cascade, at 41%, had active cases in 1% of their populations.
Dyersville has a 20% larger population than Peosta, but nearly twice as many active cases. Peosta had an 11% higher vaccination rate.
Dubuque’s North Side and Sageville had by far the most active cases — 386 — with their 49% vaccination rate.
“They have the most active cases, because they have the highest population and one of the lower vaccination rates based on their size,” said county Health Department Assistant Director Samantha Kloft.
She said some demographic differences could be at play, because younger people are currently experiencing the most positive cases.
“That age 12 to 29 group has both our highest cases and our lowest vaccinations,” Kloft said.
For residents of the county’s smaller cities, Kloft said the health department has begun targeting more outreach to gathering places in those communities.
“We’ve also taken our vaccine posters, reusable masks out to different businesses in the small towns,” she said. “A lot of them have been very receptive of those things and said they would definitely put the materials up.”
The Dubuque County Board of Health has recommended that businesses require vaccinations of employees, barring health reasons for not receiving them, and masks inside their businesses. Members asked that the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors support that recommendation, but supervisors unanimously declined.
“We have not heard from any of the businesses or companies in the county if that is occurring or not,” Kloft said.
What the department has heard is an increase of encouragement between loved ones.
“We’re starting to see more of the family members talk to their family members about getting vaccinated,” Lambert said. “They’re trying to address concerns or questions. We’re thankful for the CDC as well for the studies they have done showing that vaccines are good for most, specific populations, that pregnant women should just ask their doctor, but not be afraid.”