OTTUMWA — The pace at which Wapello County’s COVID-19 cases are increasing seems to be slowing, a trend that first showed up in local officials’ numbers and is now appearing in state data.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said Wapello County was up to 360 cases as of Saturday, an increase of 10 compared to the previous day’s figures. It was the lowest increase according to the state in a week.

The county’s position relative to other counties was stable in terms of both the raw case load and per capita cases. The IDPH counts 11 Wapello County residents as having recovered, but that figure appears to be several days old.

State officials said the percentage of tests coming back positive in Wapello County is declining. More than half the tests performed May 9 were positive, the peak thus far. Declines over the past week have been slow but steady. While Wapello County’s rate remains well above the state’s mark, the most recent set fell below 30 percent positive for the first time since April 28.

Information from Wapello County officials shows a different total but a similar trend. A total of 339 cases are counted on, with 48 people recovered. The latter number has risen considerably in recent days, marking the first multi-day decrease in active COVID cases.

There remain some reasons for caution. Wapello County now has 12 people hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, according to state data. Hospitalizations generally trail infection rates, so that figure could keep rising for a while.

And Monroe County is now at 19 cases. The past week saw an outbreak of the virus at a long-term care center in Albia, and that outbreak is being watched closely.

Officials are continuing to urge people to take the online screening at to see if they qualify for testing at the Ottumwa site, which opened earlier this week.

— Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter @mwmilner


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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