APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Venezuela

A doctor takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 at the Cocodrilos Sports Park in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

OTTUMWA — Cases of the COVID-19 disease continued to grow across Iowa on Wednesday. In a 24-hour period, the state added 1,180 cases, with one of the state’s smallest counties adding 18.

Cases in Monroe County have increased by more than 30% since Sept. 30, leading the 14-day positivity rate to climb to 18.6% as of Wednesday. Only seven counties in Iowa have higher positivity rates, as of 10 a.m. Wednesday. It’s also the highest rate Monroe County has seen since the data began being tracked by the state in early August.

The county of about 7,800 people saw 18 new cases of the coronavirus between 10 a.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Wednesday. In the last week, there have been 43 new cases reported in Monroe County.

In Wapello County, there were five new cases reported by the state’s data Wednesday morning. No other Courier area coverage area saw new coronavirus cases between Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

According to state data, Monroe County has more active disease cases than any of the other five counties in the Courier’s coverage area.

To date, Monroe has had 214 confirmed infections, with 131 having recovered and 11 dead — which works to 72 active cases of the virus ongoing. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health data, there are 50 active cases in Appanoose, 49 in Wapello, 45 in Jefferson, 31 in Davis and 27 in Van Buren.

There were 1,180 new cases of the virus statewide in Iowa. There were 11 new deaths reported, 992 recoveries and 5,419 new individuals tested.

Hospitalizations continued at near-record levels. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, the state reported 473 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 around the state, with 106 in an intensive care unit. There were 74 new admissions in the last 24 hours.

State data reports about 35% of beds remain available statewide.

Locally, hospitalizations have not seen the same rise. The Wapello County Public Health Department reported Tuesday that two are hospitalized with COVID-19.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. It is often mild and some individuals remain asymptomatic or have only cold or flu symptoms. But the disease can be more severe, require hospitalization and lead to death, particularly in older or immunocompromised people.

Experts, including those at the CDC, say wearing masks when in public, keeping at least 6 feet of distance between people when possible, and good hygiene can prevent the spread.

The Ottumwa Courier relies on data reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health, using its coronavirus data dashboard at coronavirus.iowa.gov. Data is checked each day at 10 a.m. and then compared to the data previously captured from the dashboard to produce stories.

The state has changed how it reported the data several times, and local officials often produce data based on different standards or in different timeframes. Therefore, the data will not always align with other sources.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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