OTTUMWA — Positive tests for COVID-19 have trended down locally in recent days, but one day this week showed how fast things can change.

Thursday’s significant rise in new COVID-19 diagnoses in Wapello County saw a total of 33 cases added to the state’s count. Totals at midday showed only a small handful of new cases. That appeared to continue the downward trend the county had been seeing. But a swing toward a significant increase took place as more data came in during the afternoon.

The unusual intra-day shift underscores the benefits, and frustrations, of the state’s new approach to COVID-19 information. Updating the website throughout the day means information is more likely to be current. But it also means looking just once can skew perceptions.

A total of 157 test results came in on Thursday for Wapello County, easily the highest number since testing began in the area. It’s no surprise that such growth in testing would find additional cases, but the rate of positive tests jumped back above 20 percent for the first time in several days.

On Friday, the state’s total for Wapello County stood at 462 cases. Of those, 137 are listed by the Iowa Department of Public Health as recovered, giving the county 325 active cases.

Gov. Kim Reynolds thanked Iowa health care workers for their efforts during the pandemic. Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, agreed.

“I can’t even begin to describe how proud and grateful I am for what our health care team has been able to accomplish,” he said. “At a time when the rest of the world was self-isolating, Iowa’s health care workers have stepped forward to tackle this challenge head on, driven by their fierce dedication for patients.”

Gunasekaran said Iowa’s progress is real, and credited it in part to efforts by people to follow the best advice from medical professionals. That needs to continue.

“I encourage each and every one of you to keep that up as we continue well into our recovery,” he said.

Reynolds said the loosening of restrictions on the TestIowa referrals for testing increased the number of people with appointments for tests. Those who have taken the assessments before will need to go through testiowa.com again to get an appointment.

“While life is beginning to feel more normal, we can’t forget that the virus still remains in our communities. We must continue to take personal responsibility for our health and the health of others,” Reynolds said.

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

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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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