OTTUMWA — The number of new COVID-19 cases in Wapello County rose by six on Sunday, a higher increase than the area had seen in more than a week.

The rise came after state officials reported no new cases for Friday. While the state had previously gone 24 hours without reporting a new case locally, this was the first day for which a zero was entered since numbers began soaring in late April.

The increase was enough to raise the positive test rate to 13 percent. That’s above the 10 percent threshold experts say is important for accurate monitoring. While a one-day figure that high may not be reason for concern, it bears watching.

Wapello County now has a total of 689 cases of the virus, though the vast majority of those patients have gotten better. State figures show slightly more than eight out of every 10 people with the virus in Wapello County have recovered.

County officials put the recovery rate higher, but questions remain about why the county’s figures did not add up last week. For much of the week the county’s number of total cases was lower than the number of recoveries plus deaths. The gap was as high as 10 late last week.

The number of deaths reported matched the state’s total. And, since a patient cannot both recover and die from the illness, the county was either overreporting recoveries or underreporting total cases. The Courier asked for an explanation of the discrepancy, but officials never replied.

Two additional cases have been found in Appanoose County. One male and one female, both younger than 18, tested positive. The new results bring the number of confirmed cases in Appanoose County to 20.

As people recover, there is an increasing difference between the number of cases and the active cases in any given county. State officials list 11 Appanoose County residents as recovered. Three have died. That means the county currently has six people confirmed to be ill from the COVID-19 virus.

Similar differences play out in other counties. Mahaska County has 112 total cases. Eighty-six people have recovered, and there have been 15 deaths. So the number of active cases is 11.

State figures give Wapello County, which had by far the biggest surge in cases for southeast Iowa, an active case load of 108 patients. County officials offer a lower figure, with 36 active cases. But the county’s data includes both 22 fewer total cases and 86 more recoveries.

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

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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