COVID-19 numbers continued their rise in Marshall County with a jump by eight positive cases on Monday.

The active case count Tuesday stood at 16, and two of them were hospitalized. Marshall County Health Department nurse Sue Rhodes is concerned about widening spread here.

“We’re going through influenza and COVID at the same time,” she said Tuesday morning. “And we’re a county with a lot of industry whose employees are from out of county and state. There are exposures that come back here.”

She said small businesses are finding out how easily it spreads in small spaces and that spacing out desks and wearing masks is necessary.

There were two pending tests Tuesday. There have been 85 cases in the county so far and 69 have recovered.

Rhodes said some cases were in schools, but she declined to identify which schools until she had a better handle on all new cases and locations. Marysville school district posts any COVID-19 case numbers each Friday, and as of last Friday, the report on the USD 364 website showed no active cases.

Rhodes said school staffs have done a “fabulous” job handling the tracing and helping students to quarantine if they were exposed to an active case.

Two asymptomatic cases in nursing home employees were discovered through routine testing in recent days, Rhodes said. She declined to identify the site until she had reviewed all cases and locations early this week. All nursing homes in Marshall County test employees twice weekly, she said, which helps detect staff cases without symptoms. No nursing home residents had tested positive as of Monday, she said.

Waterville resident Sandy Harding, 72, had a serious bout with COVID-19 from Oct. 2 to 15 at Via Christi hospital in Manhattan. She is now out of the hospital and in recovery at home.

She shared her experience in an email interview with the Advocate.

“I’ve had many health events in my life, the scariest being brain surgery, but I have never had a more devastating, depressing experience than going through what COVID-19 has offered up. I am fortunate enough to belong to a very close family that always rallies around. With this virus they could only come as far as the door. It is so very difficult not to have an advocate when you are so ill.

“After a safe and attentive trip in the Marysville ambulance, I arrived at the Manhattan hospital ER door. Being a COVID patient, I was rushed into an isolated room, attached to many tubes and wires, then left by myself to wait and wait and wait. I spent four hours in that room alone except for a nurse coming in and out trying to draw blood. I was very sick and afraid.

“Finally, I was moved to the isolation ward, where my family tells me I spent two days, where I continued to require more and more oxygen to survive. From there I was moved to the ICU unit for more intensive care. There I was given oxygen with heat to help penetrate my lungs. This felt like being steamed from the inside out. I was so hot and could have no fan or moving air of any kind.  And still, I was alone.

“I had a whole crew of angel nurses and doctors, but they had to gown up every time they came in, so they tried to get it all done in one trip about every three hours. I’ve never felt so alone in all my life.

“My oxygen needs just kept rising from 8 to 9 to 11 to 13 units. At 15 they put you on a ventilator. The doctor asked me three times whether I wanted him to do that. I said, ‘Yes, do what you have to do. I am not a quitter!’

“Then I had a talk with God. I told him I couldn’t go on this way and I was leaving it to him to decide. In two hours, I began to get better, so I did not have to experience that.

“After several more days my oxygen needs had come back down to 10 units so that I could come off the hot air and go back to the isolation ward. And still I was alone. Nurses were my only contact with the outside. They were wonderful. There I was able to move about the room with only the oxygen tube following me. My oxygen needs had to be under 3 units to get to come home, and it seemed to take forever.

“Finally, on the 14th day I got to come home. I am still on two units of oxygen and very weak, but improving every day, thanks to my nurse, the love of my life, Gene.

“Thank goodness for technology today. My family was on the phone with my doctors, nurses and me through it all. And even though they couldn’t come in they brought things like clothes, fans, books and snacks to the ER door. My support group reaches far and wide. My kids and grandkids, siblings and husband kept me going every day with phone calls and FaceTime.

“My 92-year-old Aunt Irene learned to do FaceTime so she could sing me my favorite childhood song, ‘The Irish Lullaby.’ A multitude of friends offered me encouragement through cards, texts and calls. I want all of you to know I couldn’t have made it through that dark tunnel without you.

“Please be aware that this virus is not going away, and until there is a vaccine our only defense is to wear a mask, wash our hands, keep our distance and pray that if we get it, we can win the battle.”