OTTUMWA — While the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, a look at local numbers shows the dramatic differences in its course over the past two months.
Wapello County stood at 692 cases as of noon Friday. The total number of cases hit 600 at the beginning of the month. By comparison, the number of cases skyrocketed from slightly more than 60 to almost 600 over the course of May.
The county averaged almost 18 new cases per day in May. The figure for June is fewer than three per day.
The confirmed cases almost certainly undercount the total, though estimates on how much vary significantly. And testing has generally fallen since Memorial Day. Neither of those caveats is enough, though, to change the overall trend in Wapello County. The daily percentage of positive tests has generally been below 10 percent, the threshold experts say shows whether enough testing is being done. Only a brief blip on June 21 exceeded that level this month.
When experts talk about flattening the curve for infections, they most often mean the curve on a logarithmic graph. Such a chart for shows a nearly flat line for the past couple weeks and even a graph of the raw case counts in Wapello County shows the number leveling out.
The rest of the region, while not hit as hard as Wapello County, shows only sporadic new cases. Combining positive tests from Wapello County and the eight surrounding counties shows only one day with a double-digit total since mid-June — and that was only 10 cases.
Outside of Wapello County, the largest area outbreaks have been tied to long-term care facilities. State data shows the outbreaks at facilities in Mahaska and Monroe counties have been brought under control.
The picture statewide is mixed. More than 27,555 people in Iowa have contracted the virus, and the state topped 700 deaths on Friday. Iowa’s totals have trended upwards in the past week.