Virus Outbreak College Testing

James Robson, a biomedical engineering graduate student, holds a swab and specimen vial in the new COVID-19, on-campus testing lab, Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Boston University in Boston.

OTTUMWA — As Iowa had record case growth for a third-straight day, Wapello County added 31 new coronavirus cases.

Iowa added 2,887 cases statewide — besting the record growth of 2,823 on Saturday and 2,621 on Friday.

October was the worst month for the spread of the coronavirus, according to state numbers analyzed by the Ottumwa Courier. There were 37,745 cases confirmed in October, and 357 deaths of Iowans — the worst month on record in the pandemic.

November is shaping up to be worse. A model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projecting more than 600 deaths in Iowa in November. Beds in intensive care units are projected to be out of supply by early December.

Hospitalizations were at or above record levels again Sunday. Around the state, there were 676 patients admitted with COVID-19, a new record. There were 164 in an intensive care unit, which ties the previous record set in May. There were 128 new admissions in the last 24 hours, also a record.

Around the Courier’s coverage area, there were 20 new cases reported in Appanoose County, nine in Jefferson, six in Davis, five in Van Buren and two in Monroe.

While not included in the state data on Sunday, officials in Appanoose County Saturday afternoon confirmed a new death — an individual between the ages of 41- and 60-years-old with underlying health conditions. That ups the county’s total to four deaths since the pandemic began.

There were three new cases reported at the Golden Age Care Center in Centerville, a total of 14 now reported in state data. There were two new cases at the long-term care facility of Good Samaritan Society, with that outbreak up to 128. There were no new cases reported at Vista Woods Care Center in Ottumwa or the Keosauqua Health Care Center.

The 14-day positivity rate continued to rise in Wapello County, up to 14.7% as of Sunday morning. Experts say a positivity rate above 5% is a sign of significant spread in a community. The highest county in the Courier’s coverage area was Van Buren, at 16%.

In the last 24 hours, Iowa had 8,587 citizens tested for the first time and 323 new recoveries reported. There was one new death reported in state data.

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 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 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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