This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Image captured and colorized at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana.

FREMONT — Students were scheduled to start at Fremont Elementary School on Wednesday, but that start has been called off due to a positive COVID-19 test.

A letter to parents from Scott Williamson, the superintendent at Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont School District, said multiple staff members at the elementary building in Fremont have had COVID-19 symptoms. One staff member has tested positive so far.

For now, the elementary building will be closed through Friday, Aug. 28. Williamson said he will be consulting with the Iowa Department of Education and local public health officials to determine a new start date for the school.

The rest of the school buildings in the Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont school district haven’t been impacted by the situation in Fremont.

There were 11 new cases of the COVID-19 disease reported in state data on Tuesday morning in Wapello County.

The increase is determined by the change in total cases reported from 10 a.m. Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

While cases in the month of August had largely remained flat in terms of growth, the trend line has now begun to show a downward drop in new cases.

In the last 14 days, there have been 92 cases added in Wapello County. Last week, that number peaked at 119. The number was as low as 14 in early July, when cases reached their lowest point since the pandemic peaked in May.

Van Buren and Jefferson counties each saw two new cases, while Appanoose and Monroe counties each had one new case.

Late Monday, after the Ottumwa Courier went to press for its Tuesday edition, local officials announced two new deaths. Both were between the ages of 61 and 80 years old. That raises the total deaths to 46 since the pandemic began.

Statewide, there were 492 cases reported and nine new deaths. There were 709 new recoveries reported and 3,869 new tests.

Cases in nearby Marion County continued their growth Tuesday, with 18 new cases. Since Wednesday, the county has had a nearly 49 percent jump in cases, the second-largest rate of growth in the state over that period.

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.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.


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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