(Glenwood) -- Mills County officials are taking note of a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the county over the past week.
Four new cases of COVID-19 were reported over the weekend, making for a total of 51. Mills County trails only Pottawattamie County (with 837 cases), Shelby County (119 cases) and Taylor County (81 cases) with the highest total cases in southwest Iowa. Mills County Public Health Administrator Julie Lynes attributes the spike in her county to more people getting out and about after Governor Kim Reynolds lifted public health measures.
"I would say that the governor has reopened Iowa, and eased a lot of the restrictions," said Lynes. "So, people are out more. It's summer, it's beautiful weather. We have people out in the public more. So, there's more opportunity for the disease to spread."
Lynes says county officials are monitoring the increase, and continue to stress the importance of wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing while in public.
"We're trying to get good messaging out to our community," she said, "that there are more things that we can do to sort of mesh this reopening, and getting back to some sense of business as usual, while also being very mindful that we are going to continue to live with COVID-19 for some time, here."
Lynes says officials are dealing with two public mindsets when it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19.
"We have a big part of our population that is really wanting to wear masks," said Lynes, "very mindful of that, wanting to contain it. There's another segment of the population that wants to get back to business as normal. It's no surprise. It's on the national media. People have very different mindsets about that."
The recent jump in coronavirus cases comes as the MIlls County Courthouse reopened its doors to the public Monday morning. County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Hurst says protocol is in place for visitors to make the transition as easy as possible.
"We're asking that people wear face coverings when coming in," said Hurst. "If our staff is behind a Plexiglas screen, then it's up to that department whether they can release that requirement of the staff. But if they come out in the common area, we're requiring them to wear face masks. So, we're asking that right now."
Hurst says residents are also asked not to bring their children into the courthouse.
"We're kind of asking parents not to bring children into the courthouse," he said. "That could be an issue, not only for children, but any other adults. And of course, children tend to wander, you know, sometimes. So, we're just asking. We know that's not something that can be done readily by parents. Sometimes they have their children. But, we'll just work through that as we go on this next week, or so."
In addition, signage has been placed around the courthouse reminding visitors of the regulations, and asking them to stay home if they're feeling sick. Hurst and Lynes made their comments as guests on KMA's "Morning Line" program Monday morning. You can hear the full interview on our "Morning Line" page at kmaland.com.