Coronavirus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab.

OTTUMWA — There are 10 hospitalized in Wapello County, as another 43 residents tested positive for the virus Saturday.

Wapello County added another long-term care outbreak — the third outbreak ongoing. There were 14 cases reported at Ridgewood Specialty Care in Ottumwa. There’s been no change in total cases reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health, with 134 reported at Good Samaritan Society (74 have recovered) and six in the newest outbreak at Vista Woods Care Center (two have recovered).

Iowa posted 4,249 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, adding to what has been a record week for virus growth in the state. Since November began on Sunday, there have been 21,034 new cases confirmed. The state added 37,745 cases in all of October, which is currently the worst month in the pandemic.

Hospitalizations continued at near-record levels. Hospital leaders across the state telling the public they need to make sacrifices to stop the spread of the virus before hospitals become overwhelmed. Those sacrifices include wearing a mask, social distancing, practicing good hygiene and avoiding large crowds and gatherings.

On Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said it is small gatherings that are playing the biggest role in the state’s record growth of the coronavirus. She joined hospital leaders in calling for Iowans to make sacrifices to help the state control what has become one of the highest rates of virus spread in the nation.

As Wapello County inches near 300 active cases, a higher percentage of tests are returning positive in the county. On Saturday, the county’s 14-day average positivity rate increased to 20.5% — the highest level since the state began releasing the data point publicly in August.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a rate of 5% is indicative of significant community spread. A rate of 20% is the level set by Reynolds for schools to request waivers to move to all-virtual instruction if they choose to. The state must still approve the waiver request if one is made.

The Wapello County Public Health Department reported Friday that 10 are hospitalized in the county.

Around the state, 901 were hospitalized as of Saturday morning. There were 194 in an intensive care unit, a record. Another record was hit for patients admitted in the last 24 hours, with 165.

There were 17 new cases reported in Appanoose County, 16 in Davis, 16 in Monroe, 15 in Jefferson and five in Van Buren.

Monroe County has the highest positivity rate in the Courier’s coverage area, at 21.3%. The rate was 20.4% in Appanoose County, 19.7% in Van Buren, 17.3% in Davis and 12.3% in Jefferson.

The state reported 14 new deaths on Saturday, 8,649 new individuals tested and 1,151 new recoveries.

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.

Those wanting to be tested can visit testiowa.com to schedule a test at the Ottumwa Test Iowa Clinic.

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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